After committing yet another awkward blunder as a kid, my mom used to pat my back gently, and offer me consoling words of wisdom: “Don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human. We all are.”
Except we’re not.
The hair was what eventually tipped me off.
My epiphany occurred after quite literally bumping into Kyle Evans in the grocery store with my cart, because there is always one rogue wheel that decides to fuck with me just because. He turned around, and I recognized him immediately—how could I not? I attended school with Kyle from kindergarten through eighth grade, and he appeared to be a taller version of the same maddeningly perfect person I knew seventeen years ago. The personification of cool. He never had an awkward stage. He was smart. He was funny. He was athletic, but was also gifted in music and art and juggling and any other fucking thing he tried, I’m sure. And he appeared to have picked a cart with four cooperating wheels.
An obligatory conversation ensued. I was fine, thanks. What have you been up to? He was living in New York City, working as a model. Of course he fucking was. He was just in town for his mom’s birthday. And off he strolled, pushing his quiet, perfect cart, with his perfect, model biceps. Asshole.
I immediately fumbled around my purse through a litter of used tissues, old receipts, retired pens, and empty chapstick tubes for my phone, dropped it, retrieved it, and texted my sister Lori.
“Just saw Kyle Evans. Is model in NYC now. Hair still perfect.”
I didn’t even have time to put my phone back in my purse before she replied.
“How is it mathematically possible to never have a bad hair day?”
I snorted, and the woman sizing up the cantaloupes shot me a strange look, and quickly moved on to the watermelons. But Lori’s comment stuck with me. I had seen Kyle every day of the school year for eight years, and he had never had a bad hair day. What was the mathematical probability of that happening, really?
“Lori, it just isn’t normal. Human beings are awkward. We just are. I mean, I bumped into my kitchen table the other day, and I told it, ‘Sorry.’ I actually apologized to my table!”
Lori perked up. “Sometimes, I run into my coffee table, and I say, ‘Ouch,’ and I’m not even hurt. It just sort of comes out.”
“The other day, on the bike trail, I was listening to my iPod, and a guy asked me the time, and I told him, ‘Sorry, I don’t have a watch.’ While my iPod was in my fucking hand. Super awkward.”
“I got you beat. You know that guy at work I like? Mike? Well, on Friday, he was running late, so he comes in with his hair still wet from his shower. Holy shit, Jess, he was such a sexy mess, I can’t even tell you. So, his desk is right by mine, and I can’t stop looking at him. Like, every couple minutes, I just have to sneak a look. And he must have noticed…”
“…because the next time I look up, he and all of his buddies wave at me. Super awkward, for the win. And by the way, I think I may quit my job.”
“Mike’s a dick. At least it happened on Friday. He has all weekend to forget about it.”
“And on the subject of sex, as my sister, I know you don’t want to think about this, but remember when Mom enrolled us in gymnastics? You know how bad I was at it? Imagine a naked, less-pliable me trying to do gymnastics with another adult lying in the way. It’s fucking awkward, and I mean that in every imaginable way.”
“Lori, stop! You win! My point is, people are awkward all the time. It’s just our nature. Cool people? The people with perfect hair, who never do anything wrong? That’s not normal. That’s not human.”
“Maybe they’re just lucky.”
I stood up, and hauled the reusable nylon grocery bag out of the closet. I dropped it next to Lori on the couch. She leaned over, and peered in, curious. To her credit, she stifled her scream. Inside was Kyle’s severed android head, a mass a wires leaking out the neck. His hair was still perfect.