Well, This Is Awkward…

Cartoonist Jessica Hagy presents a comprehensive guide to awkward moments.

cartoon men in bathroom
Steve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest

Accidentally running over the foot of a lawyer’s child with your shopping cart. Being unsure whether you are or are not on a date. That word you’re unable to put your finger on. Swimsuit season. Being bitten by a toddler. Asking, “When are you due?” and being told, “It’s benign, actually.” Prominent dog testicles. Looking like a tourist. Forgetting the names of people who think they’re important. Wearing socks with holes to the airport. When the circus lion angrily decides he’s had just about enough of this nonsense, thanks. Sweaty handshakes. American flags made in China.

Being stopped because they’ve heard that one before.

When it’s your fault we need a cleanup in aisle seven. All the things you should have said but didn’t. All the things lost in translation. Cold sores. When no one has anything nice to say at the funeral. Inadvertent triple entendre. Cries for attention that involve visible thongs. Breaking up with your boss. Opening awful gifts in front of the person who gave them to you. Small talk at the urinal. Faded bumper stickers for candidates who lost. Forgetting the baggies before walking the dog.


Magic tricks that don’t quite work. Not being asked to perform an encore. Mispronouncing a common word in the presence of linguists. Rich people who have no idea what things cost. Any conversation that begins with “Let me tell you about my placenta.” Being served a fine cut of an endangered species in a delicate balsamic reduction on a bed of arugula. Your Internet browsing history. First and last dates. Parrots that swear at guests.

Teenage poetry.

The casual racism of elderly relatives. Saying, “I love you,” and hearing, “Oh, OK.” The honesty of the extremely inebriated. The honesty of curious children. When someone angrily asks, “Are you flirting with me?” Rattraps in restaurant bathrooms. The honor of being a bridesmaid.

Calling your neighbor’s dog by his wife’s name.

Telemarketers who are just trying to save some lives. Damp seat cushions on public transit. Lazy eyes. Struggling to compliment creepy-looking babies. Being the flabbiest person 
at the gym. Beardless Santas. Long, thick hairs in soups, on soaps, and in nostrils. Apologizing for being successful. When Dad won’t give you his ideal kidney. Speaking now instead of forever holding 
your peace.


The red sock in the load of white towels. Adult tantrums. Not 
being allowed into the club. Sharing toothbrushes. Comparing scores on standardized tests. Sanctimonious parenting advice. Medical exams that require the donning of a gown. Comparing salaries. Forgetting where you parked Grandma. Telling a funny story you didn’t know was a secret. Reheating tuna fish in the office microwave. Every baby shower that has ever been thrown.

Accidentally flashing a gang sign.

Loud snorting. Becoming your mother despite decades of effort 
to the contrary. Adoring things that are not at all popular. Not getting 
the joke.

Being the joke.

Not knowing when to quit. Quitting while you mistakenly think you’re still ahead. And so on.

Jessica Hagy is a cartoonist and the author of the best­selling book How to Be Interesting.

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