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One evening as I headed home from the Student Center, I was standing in the elevator, minding my own business and thinking about electromagnetic waves and how they propagate in space. Then the elevator came to an abrupt stop. The door slid open, and a couple stepped into the confined space, holding hands. No big deal, right? That’s what I thought — until they started acting all couple-like, hanging onto each other like a pair of positively and negatively charged particles.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Usually if a couple acts like this in public, I express complete apathy since it’s quite easy to look the other way; however, when I find myself confined to a tiny, metal box with two other occupants who obviously enjoy each other’s company — perhaps a little too much — things can just become … awkward. Sure, an elevator ride doesn’t last very long, but it’s long enough to be a bother. After the elevator mercifully stopped at its final destination, I thought to myself, “How can I avoid this sort of situation in the future?” Then, rather childishly, a humorous saying not meant to be taken seriously infested my thoughts: “Don’t get mad. Get even.” The following plan of defense took form in the forges of my mind:

Ways to Get Even (aka make things more awkward)

1. No one likes a cry baby. Pretend that your cell phone is giving off a signal that indicates another human being is trying to make contact. Respond to said signal by answering the phone and asking, convincingly, “Hello?” Wait for a few moments as if someone is responding to the salutation and make facial expressions that progressively trend toward the emulation of an upset mood. Now that the proper preconditions have been set, start sobbing. The desired result will be better if crying is done uncontrollably and loudly. For added effect, start muttering about whatever it is that brought on the tears. However, make sure that said topic does not pass the line of seriousness (such as, my mom died, my grandma is sick, etc.). These kinds of topics are just cruel and will probably lead the couple to try to provide some comfort. This is not the desired goal. The plan is to make the situation awkward for them, so choose a topic that is trivial and annoying, such as Justin Bieber finally filing a restraining order. Make sure you provide bursts of sobs, snot, tears, and an overall sense of utter despair.

2. Do I know you? (courtesy of Rebecca H. Navarro ’14) This requires some improvisation. As soon as the elevator ride becomes awkward, strike up a conversation with a member of the couple as though you have known that person for quite some time. Ask about classes, about the apparently new relationship, about family affairs, and all the while, blatantly ignore the confused face that manifests as the result of the unknown inquisitor. If a name can be found somewhere or the other person says it at one point, use this knowledge to your advantage. That way, the supposed “friend” cannot question whether or not this friendship actually exists. This plan works better if topics for discussion stay within the realm of reality; in other words, stick to classes that you’re in and topics that you know. This way it’s harder to catch the lie. After all of this is done, watch as they squirm from the large dose of awkward that has been served.

3. Music to my ears. Think of a horrible song. Now think of a worse one — worse than Rebecca Black’s Friday. Start singing that song. Now, do it like you’re tone deaf. For added effect, choose a song that somehow relates to couples — about them breaking up, hooking up, or hitching up. For those who feel as if this isn’t enough awkward for one elevator ride, a small dance can be thrown into the mix just to make sure that the couple knows that another presence besides their own is occupying the elevator. Enjoy.

Next time you find yourself forced into a cramped space with a happy couple, feel free to make it awkward. Rejoice in the awkward, dance in the awkward, and love your awkward. Just make sure that as the elevator is emptied of its passengers, you let the couple know you were simply fighting awkward with awkward. A simple statement such as “This has been a product of Awkward Self-Defense” will do. That way, the couple will think twice before recklessly and unwittingly starting an awkward war again.