Standing at Dairy Queen, and waiting on the Butterfingers Blizzard I’d been thinking about during Connor’s ball practice, a woman approached me.

Standing at Dairy Queen, and waiting on the Butterfingers Blizzard I’d been thinking about during Connor’s ball practice, a woman approached me.

“You look familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?”

We went through previous employers, past residences, and where my kids go to school with no connections. Logan is still convinced he met her by the toy section at Walmart.

Then it struck me.

My heart simultaneously raced and sang. Maybe she remembered my face from my column or the back of my book. As my head swelled a little, I dared not mention the possibility for fear I was wrong.

Plus, I worried after talking to me that she might never pick up anything I wrote again.

Face to face conversations can be painful at times, since awkward encounters are my specialty. I have watched people walk away disoriented and confused after trying to have an impromptu public conversation with me.

In most cases, I would rather communicate behind the screen or in text messages because there is always an option to completely ignore the communication until I’ve thought up a non-offensive response.

And that’s the beauty of texting, email, and all other forms of electronic communication except for Facebook messenger who rats you out the second you open the message. Sometimes I just need a few minutes to process things before I say them or get my attitude in check.

Because when someone asks for a favor in person, it might be considered rude to roll my eyes, walk away, and then return an hour later to respond, “Sure. What time should I be there?”

Plus, there is no backspace for spoken words. Once something stupid or thoughtless rolls out of my mouth—it just sits there on display like a coughed-up goober that no one wants to acknowledge but everyone knows is there.

This happened in a job interview when I was asked if I work well with others.

“Oh yes — in fact, I enjoy having relationships with my coworkers,” I said, and then sat for a moment in silence. “But not like inappropriate relationships, because that wouldn’t be right. I’m very ethical. I don’t even steal office supplies — except maybe that stapler on your desk. Just kidding! That’s a nice stapler though.”

And the entire time, I begged myself to shut up — but my mouth just kept running and I was helpless to stop it. As my interviewer walked me out, and I avoided eye contact with potential coworkers or office supplies, I could already tell I didn’t have even have a chance.

Now, if the same question were proposed in an email, I would have returned with a well thought out, and most importantly, edited, response.

Then when followed up by a face to face meeting or even telephone call, they are surprised to find the unedited version of me bumbling with words and doing everything I can to avoid spitting when I talk.

In a way though, that’s the beauty of real life conversation. It’s just more honest. Facial expressions aren’t masked by emojis, and answers aren’t edited to say exactly what we think we should.

And sometimes that is a good thing.

As a writer, my appreciation of the written word is great, but our current method of talking to each other is a watered down, LOL version, of all the amazing things communication is capable of. Language is meant to be experienced rather than just read and responded to.

Animated with sweeping hands and colored with emotions, we exchange thoughts through our eyes and our smiles (or that look I give the kids when they are about to do something I told them for the tenth time not to do). Sometimes those are good thoughts, and sometimes not—either way, there is something about good old fashioned eye contact that makes up remember we are talking to another human.

But for my Dairy Queen conversation, I stood in front of this strange woman who I momentarily convinced myself was a fan, as she told me about the amazing products she sells. With my blizzard and ego both melting in my hand, I watched her move on to the person behind me.

“Hello, you look familiar. Have I seen you someplace before?”

Some conversations are awkward no matter what.

Meg Duncan has lived on the same corner in Hannibal for most of her thirty-something years. Raising two boys and one husband, she writes about real life because it is far better than fiction. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.