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Folks, We've Reached an Awkward Age

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George Washington University students have an awkward time attempting to define the word "awkward." Video by Monica Hesse/The Washington PostEditor: Jonathan Forsythe/washingtonpost.com

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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 11, 2008

Things that are " awk-ward," according to a group of University of Maryland students hanging out on the campus quad:

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1. Elevators.

2. That guy in the dorm who is so tall that he sees over shower stalls without even trying.

3. Having dinner with your new girlfriend when your ex-girlfriend and her new girlfriend show up at the same restaurant (you, in this instance, are a he).

4. Vegetarian chopped liver, which looks like the most "feces-like food ever," and which what's-his-name was eating in public for Passover.

5. Curry.

When any of these are encountered, the appropriate reaction is to say, loudly and in falsetto, awk-ward!

Recently, the Maryland students all tried to come up with the situation most deserving of the declaration and decided on this: You are about to hook up with someone when you discover that he or she is the opposite sex than you thought.

Awk-ward: Sing the second syllable a minor third lower than the first.

It is the era of awkward.

It is as if the world has suddenly become blessedly simplified. Every complex negative experience can now be encapsulated in two syllables.

Time magazine's top 10 lists for 2007 included the year's 10 most awkward moments. No. 1: Columbia University's president introducing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "petty and cruel dictator."


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