February 8, 2015

That Awkward Moment When...

There’s one totally relatable topic that I’ve somehow never addressed here. I’m talking about that moment when you're interacting with your favorite band and some combination of your inner fangirl and/or natural stupidity decides to make an appearance. That foot-in-mouth or maybe even more literal face-on-ground moment that had you completely mortified while they handled it with grace because they’ve always seen worse. It’s usually followed by the inner struggle of both wanting to take it to your grave and wanting to tell all of your friends in the spirit of a good laugh and a reminder that we’re not alone in our moments of stupidity. I'm pretty sure best friends are just kindred idiot spirits secure enough to laugh at each other together.

If you've been around other fans for any extended amount of time, then you know there's something weirdly magical about getting in a car or sitting on a sidewalk with someone for hours that makes you want to spill all of those stories and collect them like trading cards. We've all got a few Jokers in the deck.

So here’s one of mine, a confession I've never made to the internet:

One time I accidentally hugged Taylor Hanson. I mean a full-on “oops, my arms are around you and you weren’t expecting it” scenario.

I can’t even use the excuse that I was young and stupid or that it was one of my first times meeting the band and I didn’t know how to react. Nope, it was last year. I was an adult. I had met the band plenty of times before without accidentally hugging anyone.

It happened in Jamaica at BTTI 2014 during the individual photos with the band. When my turn came, I walked up and Taylor held out his arms to me. It surprised me because I had watched plenty of people in line ahead of me, and none of them had gotten hugs. It didn’t make sense that he would try to hug me and no one else, but there he was with open arms, so I went with it and started to reciprocate. My arms are halfway around the guy and what he says next puts on all the brakes. ALL the brakes. In a painfully reluctant voice, he goes,

“Oh…so...I guess we’re gonna hug?”

(Don't read playful "haha, we're joking" inflections into that sentence. There weren't any.)

What do you even say to that? We're so used to the perfectly polished, appreciative “That's awesome! Nice to see you!” Taylor Hanson that is normally present at M&Gs, and here was brutally honest and completely caught off guard Taylor Hanson instead. I’m not going to take it personally because I think he was just as confused as I was, but helloooo, awkward. Too late to pull out some obvious "Oh, you thought I was hugging you? I was just stretching my arms in your general direction" save.

So he hugs me back and we survive the most awkward, mutually unwanted hug. My bad, I guess maybe he was just putting his arms out to put one around me in the picture.  Lesson learned. We take the picture and I’m so embarrassed that for once I can't wait to get away from Hanson, but I also can’t walk away without apologizing. I’m not sure what kind of word vomit came out, but I know I told him I was sorry for the awkward hug and that I totally misread the situation. The whole thing must have been full of secondhand embarrassment for them too, because Zac’s response was a very sweet “That’s okay, we can hug” and a big (intentional, I swear!) pity hug. It was a nice gesture that really did make me feel better, but I still walked away mortified and swearing to myself to never physically interact without some sort of verbal confirmation first.

The irony wasn't lost on me as I stood in line for my picture this year in Mexico and watched as all three Hansons hugged every single person in line.  I thought about going up and saying “Oh, so…I guess we’re gonna hug?” when it was my turn. Thankfully, I’m fully aware that the only thing more awkward than a mortifying moment with your favorite band is trying to bring it back up a year later and expecting them to know what in the world you’re talking about. I let the perfect year-late comeback go unsaid and got through a relatively normal M&G photo instead.

Fast forward to the final show later that night on Isla Mujeres. Taylor came down from the stage during their cover of “Back to the Island” and started high fiving the front row. I responded the way I always do, by holding onto the barricade while everyone behind me surged forward with outstretched hands, perfectly content to just hold my own space. So while Taylor is high fiving and coming my way, I’m watching his hand as it goes into the crowd. Keep your eye on the ball so you don’t get smacked in the face, right? I watch as he high fives the people to my left, a series of *palm* *palm* *palm* into the crowd, but then for me, a baffling fist. I’m thinking okay, he sees that I’m not responding to the high five invitation, so he’s trying for a fist bump instead? I fist bump him, then look up at the confused look on his face and immediately realize that whatever he was going for, a fist bump was NOT it. My friend turns and says "Holly, he was saying you look squeezed." He had only been making fists to mimic the way I was holding onto the barricade. By the time I realize this, he has already moved on and more people are fist bumping him. I just stand there laughing at myself because in the world of accidental salutations, at least I've downgraded from hugs to fist bumps. Someone should just tie my hands already.

I had no idea the whole thing was captured on video until it showed up on Hanson.net a few weeks later. It looks quick and normal enough from the outside. Cute, even. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself and let everyone else in on it too. And then you stop and thank God that nobody has been around to record all of life's accidental hugs.

Now it's your turn. My next post is going to be a compilation of awkward/embarrassing fan stories, and I want to hear yours!

Submission Guidelines
Submit your story of 300 words or less via email to holly@travelingfan.net. If you have pictures/video documenting the moment, you're welcome to submit those as well. Please include how you would like to be credited (full name, name + twitter handle, name + website url, etc.). I'll take submissions until the end of Sunday, February 22nd. Think Seventeen magazine's Traumarama, traveling fan style. Please keep it PG, and all entries come with free spell-check service. :-)

Don't have a full story, but still want to share an awkward moment? Tweet yours with the hashtag #AwkwardFanConfession and I'll include it in the post. I can't wait to hear your stories!