In this "post-awkward" time we live in, people are always going on and on about trying to "avoid awkward situations"... which, of course, is the kind of thinking that only serves to enhance and exacerbate the perceived awkwardness of any given encounter.
One of the most "classic" awkward situations is when you come across someone you know but who you aren't sure knows you... or, at least, someone you know but who you aren't sure is going to acknowledge that he already knows who you are. Recently, I've noticed more and more people going overboard with Unnecessary Introductions, beginning e-mails with "Not sure if you remember me from that class we were in together..." (um, we are Facebook friends, buddy - not only do I 'remember' you, I know that you saw "Shutter Island" last Thursday and thought it was "crzay.") Or mutual friends will make these clunky formal interactions while you share a look with the other person as if to say: "We have been through this three times and even had a ten-minute conversation outside that bar six months ago, but of course we will not acknowledge this at the moment as Kathleen introduces us yet again."
But this past weekend, I inadvertently took the Unnecessary Introduction to a whole new stratosphere. Heading into one of those grungy-ish East Village bars filled with sculptors and people who work in digital marketing or whatever, I was looking for my friend, her boyfriend (whom I had met like five times) and her boyfriend's friend (whom I had never met). Prepared for the "awkward" introduction (=kind of a redundancy, I guess), I skulked toward the back of the bar. "Well, I guess this one won't be so bad," I thought, "I know two of these people already, but not the third - it will all be quite straight-forward." (My thoughts are excessively dry and grammatical.) I arrived at the table, hugged my friend, and then turned to the two gents. "It's so nice to meet you," I said, extending my hand to... my friend's boyfriend... who I had met at least five times. Who has bought me drinks before! Whose twitter I have stalked on like ten different occasions! Horrified, I instantly realized my error, but it was too late.
"Did you say 'meet' you?!" he asked.
"Omigod, I'm sorry, I am sooo out of it," I gasped, doing my best Scatter-Brained "Hills" Girl. This excuse didn't go over so well! He didn't smile. I tried again. "I don't even know what to say. You guys... look really similar?" I slunk into my seat.
When he got up to leave hours later, I decided to whip out a JOKE to defuse the tension (which had already been defused, and really only resurfaced again because of my "joke"): "Well, it was really nice to meet you," I said, all overwrought and wry and wink-y. I immediately regretted it. I got home later that night and made a note on a stickie to friend him on Facebook the next morning.