A waiter entreats you to enjoy your meal and you respond with "you too."

This error is not confined solely to waiters; you may say "you too" when an usher tells you to enjoy the film, when an airline employee tells you to enjoy your trip, or even when a friend says "happy birthday." The "you too" is one of the most common errors in human discourse.

Your best bet is to simply ignore your mistake, since every waiter in the world has heard "you too" fifty times a day for the entire tenure in the food service industry. In fact, many of them probably take perverse delight in telling diners to enjoy their meals, knowing that the "you too" response is inevitable. Just let the waiter get away with it, because it is one of the few pleasures that life affords him.

In extreme situations, such as when you're on a power-lunch with your business colleagues or when you're trying to impress a date, you may mitigate the situation by actually taking yourself at your word and inviting the waiter to join you as you dine.


You lean back too far in your chair and almost fall over.

In a moment of idleness, you decide to create the mildly euphoric sensation of leaning back on two legs of your chair. You lean too far, and nearly fall over backward; you catch your balance after some amount of flailing, and the front legs of your chair land on the ground with a loud thud.

We're hesitant to recommend faking a seizure to avoid awkwardness, mostly because its overuse is dangerous. If everyone became aware of the possibilities of the fake seizure, not a single social event could occur without at least a dozen fake seizures; they would become so commonplace that real seizures would go untreated, and thousands of epileptics would die every year from swallowing their tongues.

However, in this case, we recommend falling out of your chair and faking a seizure.


Out of habit, you end a phone conversation with "I love you" when not talking to your significant other.

When ending a phone conversation with a friend or colleague, you say "I love you," a habitual flourish which has been drilled into your phone etiquette by years of conversations with your spouse or significant other.

Have no fear: your friend or colleague will probably assume that they heard you wrong, that you were joking, or that you simply misspoke. Calling back and insisting that you didn't mean to tell them you loved them will only make you seem desperate, creepy and cowardly, and the other party will assume that you really are secretly in love with them.

If you're concerned that your colleague took the comment wrong and believes that you're in love with them, you can easily cover your tracks by ending every telephone conversation with "I love you" for the rest of your life. Who knows: you might even get an "I love you" or two back!


You accidentally call your mom by a term of endearment generally reserved for your significant other.

You have become so accustomed to calling your spouse or significant other "sweetie" that, when visiting your mother, you accidentally use the term on her.

Is it the emergence of some oedipal fantasy, or merely an indication that you've become too accustomed to your significant other? Either way, your embarrassment will be tempered only by the fact that your mother must love you unconditionally and has a long history of putting up with your stupid mistakes.

In this scenario, apologize to your mother (goodness knows you don't do that often enough). If your significant other is present during this fiasco, glare at her menacingly until she "gets the message."


When talking to a disabled person, you make reference to a faculty which they do not posses.

While it may seem rude to walk on eggshells around the disabled, it still makes the blood rush to your cheeks when you realize that you're telling a blind person about a movie you saw, or saying "see you later, I gotta run" to a paraplegic. Many times, they won't notice (especially if they're deaf), but the steely gaze of an offended cripple is something that nobody wants to experience.

If, god forbid, you do wind up offending a disabled person by mentioning the ability that they struggle every day to live without, no apology can possibly compensate for their feelings of shame and inadequacy. Your only hope is to try to reason with them; gently explain that you meant no harm, but you're merely enjoying one of the basic abilities given to almost all members of the human race. Tell them that you have no shame when it comes to exercising one of the basic faculties with which God blessed you, and you that can only express your deepest regret and sympathy that the almighty did not see fit to honor them with the same privilege.


You become bewildered when faced with an "ethnic" handshake.

It is the fear of all suburbanites: when presented with a fist, an open palm, or any other nonstandard handshake, we freeze up, unable to react. We know that we must act quickly to avoid looking hopelessly square, or worse yet, racist. What do we do?

The most important factor when faced with an "academic" handshake is reaction time. No matter what your response is, slapping a fist or tickling a palm is infinitely better than just tentatively extending your trembling hand and hoping the other party takes the initiative to guide you through the process.

All handshakes are, at their core, tests to measure the machismo and charisma of an opponent; a nonstandard handshake goes above all that, and becomes a test of confidence and will. The slightest hesitation values your opponent's hand above your own. When faced with an unfamiliar handshake, take action, any action, as quickly as possible. Don't think, just shoot out your hand and slap whatever's in front of you.


You end up with droplets of water on your crotch after using the restroom.

We're not here to pass judgment. We don't know if you were sprayed by an overzealous bathroom faucet, or if you failed to adequately shake Lil' Odysseus before you returned him to Ithaca. Either way, you are confronted with one of the most difficult social situations imaginable: you appear to have peed yourself.

Don't panic! Although all may seem lost, the secret to disguising a pee-spot or a wet patch is perfectly simple. Secure the bathroom door against any intruders, remove your pants, and run them under the tap until they are uniformly saturated with water. When you emerge from the bathroom, you'll look as good as new! Your pants may be a shade or two darker and there will be some significant dripping, but you can probably play it off as a simple case of extreme sweating.


You laugh at a completely inappropriate time.

During a situation that demands complete silence, such as a funeral, a church service or a business meeting, you remember something that wasn't actually very funny, but it somehow strikes you as the most hilarious thing in history. Perhaps it's an old Wizard of Id comic, or the time in the Cosby Show when a mean kid called Rudy Huxtable "Rudy Huckleberry."

Anyone who has experienced this situation knows that attempting to stifle your giggles will only make them worse. Never attempt to hold your laughter in, or it will come out in undesirable ways. Your face will buckle and contort, and before you know if you'll be fizzing and snorting and squealing like a baby pig being deep-fried alive. Instead of holding your laughter in, try to release it as quickly and unobtrusively as possible. Allow yourself one solid, loud "HA!" through the diaphragm, and then sink into your seat with a scowl on your face, like Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club did when Molly Ringwald was being a jerk and describing her stupid imaginary problems. With any luck, those around you will recall the scene and go "yeah, fuck Molly Ringwald."


You call your teacher "mom."

When addressing a teacher or professor, you mistakenly refer to him or her as "mom." Among awkwardness survival experts, this is known as "The Doomsday Scenario."

If the room has fallen silent, enjoy the momentary reprieve; your peers are merely gauging exactly how hard to laugh at you, which may take several seconds. Soon, they will decide to laugh very, very hard.

Calling your teacher "mom" leaves you with very few effective tactics. DO NOT attempt to play it off as a joke; your classmates aren't stupid, and they all saw you pause three-quarters of the way into the word as a look of panic and bewilderment slowly crept onto your face. DO NOT attempt to turn the word "mom" into another word halfway through, as in, "hey mom... tana is a beautiful state. They call it 'Big Sky Country.'"

Your best hope is to face the situation with dignity. Acknowledge your error and do your best to laugh along with your peers. The main alternative is to literally crawl into a hole and die.

– Dr. David Thorpe (@Arr)

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