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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Alice The Madfratter: Awk-oholics Anonymous

Last Thursday, Daniel Belkin '08 wrote an inspiring Op-Ed about our self-conscious student body's excessive use of the word "awkward." In his call-to-action, Belkin states: "as more students conform to the fad of being awkward, more unnecessary awkward situations will arise, convincing additional students that they are awkward themselves. The vicious cycle must be broken."

Ol! D-Belk, I back it. I had some pretty appallingly balk-worthy experiences this week that I'd rather not have to deal with ev-er again. So, in light of that, I whipped up this 12-step plan for those of us who are motivated to stop chugging lameness and booting up "awkward!!!" every two to three minutes of our lives. Let's follow these steps, and hopefully they'll reveal the not-all-that-awkward shining star inside each of us. Go!

The Twelve Steps:

Step 1: Admit That You Kind-of-Sort-of Have Some Problems

Whether you're constantly tripping over the toilet paper that got wedged in your teeth, accidentally offering high-fives to people who have no hands, or just relentlessly saying "awk" for no eff-ing reason, this is the program for you. I've done some research and discovered that no one is perfect. Except for Heath Ledger. Admit your failings and travel on.

Step 2: Locate the Origins of Your Ineptitude

a) Blitzmail b) Facebook c) Keystone

Step 3: Ignite the Origins of Your Ineptitude Bonfire!

Step 4: Why the Awk-Word?

I suspect that the status of this word as the #1 adjective in our collective vocabulary is a consequence of the fact that it originates from Old Norse, and Vikings were fratty. In Viking, the word for "awkward" is "ofugr" (that's pronounced "oh-fu*k-r"). Roughly translated, that means: "premature eye-contact!"

Step 5: Awk-Talk

The only thing worse than my own issues with uncontrollable blushing / meal juggling is when I get struck with the "gosh-I'm-boring" blues. "The Weather" is the boring-est subject of conversation conceivable, and it's really easy to talk about here in Hanover. "Yeah, so... it's pretty cold today, huh?" The phrase is basically an unoriginal way of saying: "I've got nothing. Get the f*ck out of my face, please."

In order to avoid this kind of awk-talk, you should start carrying around a pocketful of icebreakers at all times. Here are a few of my favorites.

1) "Hey, I like your shirt... by the way, have you ever seen 'Fern-Gully: The Last Rainforest?' I keep having this nightmare that Hexus is chopping down First Floor Berry."

2) "Cheeri-o. Aren't British accents da bomb? I've had that 'You Say Tomato, I Say To-mah-to' song stuck in my head all week." (Follow up: talk about how Dan Quayle spelled "potato" with an "e" when he was visiting that elementary school that one time, and then segue into a discussion of politics/Segways/potential reasons why, "I don't even know what a Quail looks like," is written at the bottom of that one page of the Facebook.)

3) "What's up? How are you? Gaah! I dropped a contact lens!"

4) "Chips or Pickle?"

5) "Hey, I read your column in Mirror this week." (This last one's actually a pick-up line.)

Step 6: Overcome That Post-Hookup Umm...

One frattastic winter evening of my freshman year, I was wandering through the basement of Sig Nu, and I bumped into my first Dartmouth heartthrob (sigh). Romeo and I "Mr. Roboto"-ed the night away on the dance floor, and the next afternoon I got a phone call notifying me that there was a flower delivery at my door. My already-jaded roommates couldn't believe it. Thrilled (and madly in love!), I bolted down the stairs to retrieve my Valentine -- which was actually a basket of apples (and peanuts?) from my mother.

I have since come to terms with the fact that Hanover Greens doesn't make its money off of frat dudes.

"The Make Out Policy" that prevails here at Dartmouth is pretty much socially-institutionalized awkwardness. We awk-aholics easily submit to the, "no f*cking way am I going to be the first one to blitz" motto, and the, "we'll just talk next time we're blacked-out-of-our-faces" treaty. I mean, if you think about it, what's the point in getting to know your honey in "real time," when you can find out everything about them on the internet? These are the questions we must ask ourselves.

How to not be Awk: Being in the sober presence of someone you have the hots for can be pretty frikkin' scary. I think Dr. Belkin nailed the solution to this issue when he said; "the opposite of awkwardness is not suavity; its confidence." Easier said than done, but I certainly suspect that most Dartmouth students have a hell of a lot to be confident about.

So quit being "a fool who plays it cool" and send your cuddle-buddy a basket of love peanuts. If it was one of those not-so-peanut-worthy, "oops, I did it again," kinds of hookups, you can always just be nice and bust out that heartbreaking smile next time you run into the person. Just watch out for spinach-tooth.

Step 7: Get Funky With Yo' Adjectives

Experimenting with different adjectives will help you to wean off the A-monster. Be sure not to get too deeply involved with any one word though. It's very possible that the awk-word is a "gateway" to something far more irritating.

Step 8: Coffee Break

You've been working hard to break the awk-habit, so take a little breather. Watch out, these brief doses of down time can be stages for some serious awk-talk. It might be wise to bring along an icebreaker or two. Plus, those things are great for latte breath.

Step 9: The Awk-tkins Diet

The following items will not help you in your efforts to eat less-awkwardly: a) poppy-seed bagels b) party packs c) anything from Boloco d) Thayer's "Weenie Beanie" e) The olive and cream cheese sandwiches from the Novack vending machine. Keystone.

Step 10: Rethink that Awkwardrobe

Avoid ski masks and always wear sturdy shoes. Wearing sunglasses inside? Yeah, that's a terrible idea. Also, it's "fashionable" enough to be late to class in the morning. Save the fifteen-layer strip show for the Thayer Runway. Attempting to undress in an already-settled classroom is a task well worth avoiding. You may get cold in just one jacket, but remember, this is a process that requires sacrifice. And please don't try to make your coldness more short-lived by running to class. Running with a backpack scores really high on the awkwo-meter, and there's a lot of ice out there.

Step 11: Beware of The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Awk-aholism drives people to voluntarily create uncomfortable situations for themselves. Many addicts arrange to get their fixes by being uncharacteristically bizarre in the basements at night. Our socially-lubricated alter egos will spill our souls to strangers, or unflinchingly make plans to "totally go to the Tri-Delt formal!!!" with an ex-boyfriend's girlfriend's "pretty-okay" younger brother. Awkwardness is then shipped next-day-delivery and arrives promptly when consciousness is regained. The solution: duct tape your face shut whenever you go out.

Step 12: Just Go Spread the Love

Well, I hope you feel empowered and capable of saying "awkward" less-frequently. You know what? Just make sure you don't say it around Dan Belkin, and I think you'll be fine. Anyway, yeah ... so, it's pretty cold today, huh?

(Lay-t'ur.)