The Grand Finale of Awkwardness

Here we are.

After a grueling three-week gauntlet of escalating awkwardness, Kendall and Sarah have made it to the finale. Each have a portfolio of awkwardness that started with a simple photo and description (Kendall and Sarah), expanded to before and after photos for comparison (Kendall and Sarah), and finally included an extremely awkward anecdote from each contestant (Kendall and Sarah).

For the finale, I asked each to state their case for why they should be awarded the crown as Most Awkward Person (MAP) and include an as-yet-unseen photo to support their case. The polls will close on Thursday at noon (CST), and that night I’ll announce the winner.

Before we get to the photos and closing arguments, I want to thank everyone who participated in the Tournament of Awkwardness. You’re all great sports for doing this, and I love that you can look back at your awkward selves and laugh.

Voters, remember:

  • You can only vote once
  • You may campaign for people to vote (but encourage them to vote for the most awkward person, not necessarily you)
  • Judge their awkwardness not only by their photos, but also by their stories
  • Polls close at 12:00 pm CST this THURSDAY
Kendall (left)

True awkwardness goes beyond the endearing “bathrobe to school wearing weird girl wackiness” that Sarah has so deftly displayed throughout this contest. It’s so much more. Real awkwardness comes from within. That’s what I bring to this contest. That’s why I should win.

Look at this new picture. Years before I became an awkward disco ball wearing, flag twirling member of the color guard, there was this incident. Look at my face, the Technicolor sweater, the arms crossed, the slouch of the shoulders. My date beams at the camera but I can do no better than this. It’s almost as if I know this picture will someday be on the internet to be voted on and discussed by a group of mostly strangers for a prize of $50 (all of which—my portion included—will be going to charity). A prize that I desperately want to win. No, need to win. And what if I were to tell you that mere hours after this picture was taken, this boy tried to kiss me on the bus, and I, in all my awkward glory instead of embracing his affection ran from him and off the bus entirely. Well that’s what happened. And it wasn’t even my stop.

If that’s not awkward, what is?

Sarah looks almost excited to be wearing a crazy outfit to school in that famous picture. Proud. That’s not awkward. This is awkward. I, dear readers, am awkward. Vote for me.


Lifetime Achievements: A Year by Year Testament to Awkwardness, by Sarah

Age 0: I was born as the youngest kid in a big family. At birth, I choked on amniotic fluid and had no oxygen to my brain for over 5 minutes. The doctors told my parents that I’d be profoundly neurologically impaired. Naturally, my parents passed this news along to the family. For the first 6 years of my life, whenever I messed up, my sisters would tell me gently, lovingly, and matter-of-factly, “It’s because you’re brain damaged, Sarah.”
Age 7: The Haircut. The Shirt. Let me emphasize this: A professional photographer attempted to crop me out of my own school picture. Ironically, like some sort of Sophie’s Choice, by showing less of The Haircut he only managed to show more of The Shirt.
Age 8: If memory serves, this was the year of the hand-me-down underwear.
Age 9: Profound crippling shyness takes hold. On the bright side, I’m beginning to grow into The Shirt.
Age 10: I accidentally threw up on my classmate Michael Morris’ spelling book in the middle of a lesson. Projectile. Because I panicked when Mr. Currie called on me to answer a question out loud. Then I thought if I just acted casual, no one would notice it had happened.
Age 11: Stopped wearing home-made clothes…in favor of Yard Sale clothes. This is tricky in a town of less than 3000 people. “Hey Joyce, remember those pants you got rid of because they had a huge rip in the booty? Well, this is the way cooler version of them patched haphazardly with green canvas from an army surplus sleeping bag! I bet you wish you’d never given them up now that you see how awesome they can really look.”
Age 12: In an attempt to impress the ultra-popular Greg Baca, I ran into the empty boy’s bathroom on a dare. He promptly locked me in alone and left me there to die.
Age 13: The Red Bathrobe Incident.
Age 14-15: Will I meet cool friends if I join the Marching Band? No. It turns out that’s counter-productive.
Age 16: This is getting ridiculous. I can’t possibly still be this tragic, can I? My friend Jamie sets me up for prom with her boyfriend’s leftover younger brother. He looks like the kid from Mad Magazine. His facial expression in the prom picture says, “Why is that car speeding toward me with its bright headlights on?” My body language says, “Must control my panic over the fact that a male is touching my arm. Must not repeat the Michael Morris spelling book barf debacle.”
Age 17: My yearbook photo shows me posed holding my flute. Soon thereafter, “American Pie” got released in theaters.
Age 18: Buzz cut mullet. Compensatory heavy make-up applied like spackle. The Taco Bell of a conservative Arizona town hires me for the summer, because every Taco Bell needs a a girl who looks strikingly like a transvestite working the cash register during the dinner rush.
Age Now: It’s all still there, lurking beneath the surface. Most mornings when I wake up, my hair looks like a tiny squirrel has nested in it while I was sleeping (see photo). Most days, I have to curb my strange urge to wear highwater sweatpants in public.

It’s glaringly obvious that by comparison, the worst day of Kendall’s entire childhood would have been a relatively well-groomed success in mine. Vote for true enduring awkwardness. Vote for Sarah.

107 thoughts on “The Grand Finale of Awkwardness”

  1. Interesting awkwardness finale. Kendall and Sarah present two entirely different genres of awkwardness. Kendall’s photos and stories paint a picture of a person who is clearly very embarrassed by instances of awkwardness at the time they occur–a kid who recognizes awkwardness in the moment, whereas Sarah’s awkwardness involves attempts at normalcy or even coolness that fail miserably and are only recognized as awkward in retrospect (or projectile vomiting, which pretty much anyone recognizes as awkward in the moment).

  2. Obviously, since Sarah is “neurologically impaired”, this is not an even playing field. I think they should both win. Kendall wins the Tournament of Awkwardness and Sarah wins the Special Olympics of Awkwardness.

  3. I assure you that I recognized all the embarrassment and awkwardness in the moment and for years thereafter. This was not just recognized in retrospect, this was ongoing in-the-moment humiliation that I was acutely aware of.

    Kendall didn’t have to attempt normalcy. She was already a normal girl. She got asked on dates. She had boys who wanted to kiss her. She wore clothes that were in style (at the time). She didn’t have to try to get people to like her or accept her, because they already did. So she made a weird face in a 6th grade dance picture? So she had an unfortunate color guard uniform? That’s not unusually awkward. That’s normal life.

    Meanwhile, my own family assumed I was retarded for 6 years. My clothes were home-made. My shyness was debilitating. My playground hours were lonely. My awkwardness was all-consuming for nearly 20 years.

    I honestly do not understand how Kendall can be winning this thing right now. Two bad pictures from a popular pretty girl do not an Awkward Champion make.

    • To clarify, Sarah, my comment was not intended to be a ringing endorsement of Kendall. You are the most awkward person I’ve ever met, and if it makes you feel better, I’ll lock you in a bathroom if I ever see you again.

    • Let me put a stop to this “Kendall was a popular kid” business. I was not. Would a popular kid wear a Christmas shawl for a week before learning from her sister that it was in fact a tree skirt? Would a popular kid not only be photographed in a disco ball jacket but wear it proudly to school everyday in hopes that it would help her make friends? Would a popular kid be so proud that her rubber band racer was still in the hall of fame at her high school? Or better yet, even keep in touch with her 9th grade science teacher enough to know that fact? No she wouldn’t. I was not popular. Vote Kendall!

      • “Would a popular kid wear a Christmas shawl for a week before learning from her sister that it was in fact a tree skirt?”

        In a very funny tournament, that might be the funniest line I’ve read yet. Absolutely hilarious.

  4. While Sarah’s lineage of awkwardness is impressive and deserves high praise how can you not vote for Kendall based on the the Valentines Day circa 19__ photo? The coup de grâce is the fact that Kendall’s “date” is doing his best to make the most of his limited statue, while Kendall’s pronounced slouch further accentuates the height difference. Bravo Kendall, you have distilled the 4-8 years of pre-teen/teenage awkwardness (for both sexes) into a single photograph.

    • Josh–Here’s the question, though: Part of Sarah’s argument is that she is STILL somewhat awkward. You know modern-day Kendall quite well. Would you consider her to be awkward? How so?

      • Ah, clarification required. This is Josh from MN (I’m assuming more frequent commentator Josh is from STL). I have the unfortunate predicament that I knew Sarah when she was an total composed, utterly cool, medical student who single handed hauled myself and ~50% of our classmates through anatomy/pathology etc. with her exemplary note taking/sharing. Thus it is impossible for me to imagine Sarah as anything but awesome. Additionally, I posses limited statue and as a result immediately kelt kin-ship with Kendall’s erection hiding date.
        HOWEVER, Alyssa’s comment about the flute photo (see below) tips the balance in favor of Sarah. My vote is already cast yet I must now firmly place myself in the Sarah for MAP 2012 camp.

      • This is apparently another Josh. Hopefully this impostor doesn’t know my wife “quite well” or we may have an Arnold Schwarzenegger in 6th Day or some other alternate universe body snatcher type scenario thing going on here.

        I am however working on a why Kendall should win list so awkward, I need her approval before posting. Stay tuned for that.

        • Can we also have a contest to determine who is the real Josh? The only fair way is a fight to the death, but I’m open to suggestions.

          • I’m not opposed to a death duel although I am going to assume that that Real Josh is much larger and stronger than I am. Thus, I humbly suggest a guest blog off (topic TBD) with the winner being granted the privilege of commenting under the title “Authentic Josh” for all of eternity.

            • Imposter Josh–Oh, you don’t need to worry about Real Josh at all. He’s small and diminutive. He’s a great man, a man among men, but he’d break like a twig in a strong wind.

              That said, I’m all for a guest entry showdown. When I think of a good topic, you’ll hear from me.

              • I think I prefer the term “scrappy” or as Kendall just up it, “not a man made for prison.”

                But I back down from no challenge! I would also accept the following:

                Tiddly winks
                Checkers (Chinese, not that dumb regular kind)
                Any sport involving a mallet, wicket, or shuttlecock
                Seinfeld trivia
                Dance off
                Bake off
                Hot Dog eating contest
                Pie eating contest (blueberry, strawberry, or chocolate only)
                Longest drive contest
                Shortest drive contest
                Hula hoop
                Acting interested in boring meetings
                Or Battle of the bands

              • I think that “shortest drive contest” and “Acting interested in boring meetings” are my two favorites here. I have no doubt that Virginia Josh would excel in both of them.

  5. Let me get this straight: a Valentine’s Day photo between two attractive cool kids who obviously like each other somehow qualifies as an example of awkwardness? Really?

    If there is ANY awkwardness in Kendall’s photo, I think it belongs to the boy. I remember what it was like to be 12, male, and in close proximity to a girl I fancied. I contend that young Smiley Face is covering an erection. Seriously — check out the untucked shirt and the strategic hand positioning. Poor Smiley Face has an embarrassing stiffy.

    Where has this guy been hiding? He could’ve dominated this contest!

    • Dave–If you go back and look at the 18 original contestants in the Tournament, you’ll see at least three other photos where there is someone else in the photo who could have easily competed in this contest. You’re right that the boy in that photo could have been one of them (but there are a few other innocent bystanders that would easily top him).

    • Dave, what Valentine’s Day picture are you looking at??? What about that picture would lead you to believe that these kids are cool? Or that they like each other? Can’t you see that Kendall is clearly trying to shrink right out of picture all together and that standing beside a boy for long enough to take a picture is causing her physical pain? I bet that goofy kid walked around with that grin and his hands clasped in front of his crotch 98% of the time, whether a picture was being taken or not. These kids are not cool, they are the opposite of cool, they are….awkward!

      ps. What’s with the size of those letters? Do they really need 5 feet of headroom in every picture?!? Good grief. I think the poster deserves a few votes for awkwardness.

  6. Sarah’s original photo is funny but nothing compared to her red bathrobe picture. I only wish we could see the American Pie flute picture. Sarah, thanks for making the rest of us feel better about our disastrously awkward childhoods. You win in my book. Sarah for MAP 2012!

      • No. American Pie opened up a world in which people could randomly walk past and says things like, “This one time at band camp…. You sicko.” Suddenly, there was a global assumption that my flute–every flute–had been used for nefarious weirdness. All the more awkward, since I hadn’t seen the movie so I didn’t know why people were suddenly mocking me.

  7. Sarah – You’re a worthy competitor. Maybe good enough to win this thing. But as Kendall’s husband, I have to step in. Kendall’s brilliant, beautiful, and funny. She’s the love of my life. But that chick is also awkward as hell. Here are just a few reasons why I must ask everyone to Vote Kendall for MAP 2012.

    1. Kendall once tried to impress me by showing me how quickly and close to my face she could spin her wooden color guard rifle. A) Yes, she thought that I would be impressed by this and B) She hit me. That was our second date.

    2. She pronounces certain words like no one else I’ve ever heard. The best: Leemonade (lemonade), Shar (shower), and Teral (towel).

    3. Kendall didn’t talk until she was four years old. Her parents thought she was mute, or at best, learning disabled. When she did start talking, it was in full sentences. Turns out, she just had nothing good to say.

    4. Kendall is color blind, which is very rare in women. There have been many times when I’ve had to stop her from leaving the house wearing one brown shoe and one black, or a delightful red and pink ensemble.

    5. At 20 years old, I had to teach her to skip, whistle, and burp. She still sucks at the first two.

    • I’m pretty sure the “smash your face with my color guard rifle on accident” incident was a clever ruse used by Kendall to disfigure you and thus reduce potential competition for your affection. 🙂

    • Yes, it’s true you’ve stopped me from leaving the house many times with mismatching shoes, but there have been just as many times that I’ve gotten past your defenses and arrived at work mismatched, only to learn of my transgression from a coworker. Way to drop the ball, Josh.

  8. Alright, time for me to issue a ruling.

    Sarah, while you are obviously an incredibly good sport and are clearly quite funny, I don’t think it would be all that incorrect to label you as…different. Not bad, just different. Like, there’s a chance you still have the red bathrobe different. So I wouldn’t say you were ever awkward, you were just…different. And to be frank, I think it’s a travesty you knocked off Necktie Jess.

    Kendall, on the other hand, truly embodies the spirit of awkwardness. That Valentine’s Day picture makes me cringe in a Michael Scott type of way. I’m still amazed by the clenched fists, disco ball shirt and (unseen) polka dot underwear. I need to know more about her hitting her husband in the face on their second date. THAT is awkwardness, and that is why Kendall is the deserving winner.

    Jamey, you may now take down the poll. I have decided the matter.

    • Brad, normally your posts are completely ridiculous and I disagree with everything that you say, but today you are spot on. Well said!

  9. You guys all know each other? How the hell did I make it to the final four? I entered this thing as a total outsider JUST FOR MELTYKISSES? I suppose I should be flattered that a bunch of total strangers thought I was awkward enough to make it as far as I did based on two pictures and an embarrassing anecdote–especially when you have firsthand knowledge of everyone else’s awkwardness.

    So, what exactly is the criteria for choosing a winner in this thing? After these awkward ‘tween photos were taken, Kendall was a cheerleader. A CHEERLEADER. Sarah, meanwhile, has stayed firmly rooted in awkwardness. I’m not sure if we’re voting for the person with the most awkward phase or the person with the most awkward existence. Either way, I vote for Sarah. She had me from round one.

    • Caitlin–Oh, don’t worry, these are two completely different groups of people. The Kendall group is in Virginia, while the Sarah group is here in St. Louis (I’m sure they both have friends all over the country, but those cities are their home bases).

      And “just for Meltykisses”?! JUST?!

      • Still, there’s a “Kendall group” and a “Sarah group”. There’s no Caitlin group–no crowd of friends who know the post-awkward me. Well, post-physically awkward me. For the most part. Okay, I’m still awkward, but to a much lesser degree than my prepubescent years.

        While chocolate is a worthy motivator in many situations, I’m still on the fence about this one.

        • Oh, Caitlin. These people don’t normally read my blog! 🙂 I’d bet $50 (wait, I already did) on the fact that Kendall and Sarah asked their friends to vote on the blog today. I’m sure you would have done the same if you made it to the finale, right? We all know that the infamous black and white photo ruined it for you.

        • Caitlin, if it makes you feel any better, I was like a secret one-woman Caitlin group. If our 9-year old selves would have met, I’m sure we would have been best friends. We both had an androgyny and penchant for drawing as much attention to ourselves as possible. I think I may have even had those same pants, although in a regular size! 🙂

    • In what world is a “color guard girl” the same thing as a “cheerleader”???

      Caitlin, did you go to high school? Have you ever seen a movie about high school? The color guard is the ANTI-cheerleader. The color guard is the AWKWARD girl’s cheerleader. If you are in the color guard you are by definition awkward, otherwise, you would be a cheerleader! Just compare the outfits, that’s all you need to do, just compare the outfits.

      (did you ever go to a Halloween party where some girl was dressed as the “sexy color guard girl”?)

      • Check out her pictures on Facebook. She was a cheerleader. Those pictures are conveniently absent from this tournament.

        • Caitlin (who is quite possibly the only neutral commenter in this thread), you have it right.

          A cute blonde girl who had a date to the dance, a spot on the color guard, a place on the cheer squad, a beautiful wedding dress, and a supportive husband
          A gangly brown-haired freckly kid who was crying in the boy’s bathroom when the janitor finally came to let her out.

          I am baffled at how Kendall made it to the finals. She is a lovely woman with some funny childhood stories. Nothing more.

            • If it makes you feel better, a friend of mine said that her entire litmus test for who to vote for throughout the contest was the photo she looked at that most made her think “Yowch! That person will NEVER get to breed.” It was a 3-way tie between you, Necktie Jess, and me.

              Maybe Kendall will donate her winnings to the “Let the awkward people breed” charity fund…?

              • Although, judging by the “after” photos, everyone’s beyond needing assistance from the fund anymore. But it could be given to a new generation of hopeful young dweebs!

              • Ha! I’ve managed to breed five times! Interestingly, only one of my kids seems to have inherited my awkwardness (ironically, he plays the flute in the middle school jazz band). My only girl is uber popular and always has cute hair. I don’t get her at all. It has to be from my husband’s gene pool because she sure as Helsinki didn’t get it from me.

  10. People, People, PEOPLE! Do not let “cute” and “quirky” steal an awkwardness competition. This competition is not about who can act the most goofy and who did the silliest things when they were little, its about awkwardness.

    Yes, Sarah, we get it, you were a dork. We were all dorks or we wouldn’t be reading this blog, but lets take the red bathrobe picture. The overwhelming emotion being felt by the girl in that picture (you!) is PRIDE. You are clearly proud of the ensemble. You are proud of the pose. You are proud of the braids. You are intentionally making a funny face. You are clearly loving life. This makes you a dork. The fact that you are famous for being a good note-taker in med school means that you were also a nerd. The fact that you take pictures of yourself with your hair sticking up funny and then send them to your friends to post on their blogs means that you are quirky. Dorky, nerdy, quirky girls are not necessarily awkward when it is clear that you derive great pleasure and personal fulfillment from your quirks.

    Truly awkward kids (like Kendall) are not capable of taking a photo with that big smile. They find no joy in their quirks, they desperately try to hide them…and they fail! They feel no pride in their quirks, they hate them and they try to hide them, like Kendall is trying to hide her hands. Do you think Kendall would be parading around the front yard striking poses in her knee-high socks and her puffy shirt (is that cauliflower coming out of your robe?)? NO! Kendall is back behind the shed by herself practicing her wood-rifle spins so that she can be “cool.” Kendall is not embracing the silliness and seeking attention like Sarah (who actually takes pictures to document herself!!!), Kendall is desperately trying to get on the football field with the “cool kids” even if it means turning herself into a disco ball. She is quitely dreaming of the day she can show a boy just how close to his face she can spin her wood rifle so that he will fall in love with her and marry her (…she got that one right!).

    This is not a contest to find the most “real-life” Zooey Deschanel (….well knowing Jamey, it actually might be), this is a tournament to crown a queen of awkwardness! “Adorkable” is not awkward, its just cute!

    The cute people already get everything in this world. Don’t let cute steal awkward too!

    And yes, Kendall is a lovely woman (who is terrible at RISK) and yes she is married to a charming and funny Josh who is virtually a shoo-in to win the aforementioned “shortest drive contest” against the impostor Josh. Life has been good to Kendall in the long run, but look at these pictures people, listen to her stories, this is a deeply awkward kid who deserves this championship! The polka dots people, think of the polka dots!

    Kendall gets my vote. Sure Sarah is a little dorky, sure she did dumb stuff. But Ron Burgundy taught us that there is nothing awkward about holding a flute. Don’t buy in to her ruse! She’s just a cute little girl trying to get one over on the awkward kid (…again!).

    • Bryce, this is where you and I fundamentally differ in our outlook on this contest. I’m of the opinion that truly awkward people aren’t trying to be cool (practicing wood rifle spins, etc). Rather, they embrace who they are and, in the moment, think they are being cool/interesting/worthwhile. To me it is a greater awkwardness to deceive oneself into thinking that ridiculous red bathrobe incident (or other Sarah-related items) was the right way to “dress up” than to be completely aware of social mistakes from the get-go.

      • Fundamentally different indeed, T-mac, we might even be diametrically opposed.

        I’m not sure if I’m addressing your point directly, because I may be misunderstanding it. But in my view you are not truly awkward unless you are trying to be cool and failing. If you are different and you “own it” then its not awkward, its quirky, or weird or something else.

        Let me offer up Dwight Shrute and Michael Scott as examples. I would argue that despite being super-weird Dwight is not actually “awkward” because he’s just himself, being himself. We all look and laugh, but he’s just doing his thing and he’s content. He’s not embarrassed or ashamed, he’s just Dwight. Michael on the other hand is (was) always trying to be “cool” but failing. For example, he thought that making a parody of the “Lazy Sunday (Chronicles of Narnia)” video would make him cool because the original was cool. However, it did not make him cool and that made him awkward. It was the embarrassment that he brought on himself that was awkward.

        So how does this relate to our combatants? My contention is that both Kendall and Sarah were trying to be cool in their respective outfits and thus were both potentially awkward. The difference, to me, is that Sarah misunderstood her setting and Kendall misunderstood “cool.” If Sarah had been right and everyone else was in wacky outfits then Sarah would have been cool (or at least normal), which makes the situation more embarrassing than awkward. But under no circumstances was Kendall going to be cool in the color guard, because the color guard is inherently uncool (maybe I’m coming down too hard on the color guard, but lets just call a spade a spade). She was on a fool’s errand, trying to be cool by doing something that made her uncool.

        Another example, if Lady Gaga shows up to a black tie affair in a suit made of meat, its not awkward, its just her thing. It is the starlet who thinks she is wearing high fashion, but is not, that is awkward on the red carpet (I recognize that this is not exactly analogous to the Red Robe incident, but I’m just making my point about “owning it”).

        The Red Robe incident is pretty much exactly the same as that scene in Bridget Jones, so if we were to imagine that all the other girls at the party were wearing playboy bunny outfits then Bridget would have been perfectly cool. But if everyone shows up to a party in color guard disco ball outfits, nobody is cool.

  11. Real Josh –

    You would be surprised how weak most of the guys in prison are. If you can survive an errant rifle, you’d do just fine.

    Also, I vote for a dance off to determine the True Josh, but only if Jamey agrees to score it by wearing the applause meter with clapping hands on his head like Max did in “Dancing to the Max”. Bonus points if you can get Kendall to perform The Sprain with you.

    Caitlin –

    You are not alone. I do not know anyone on this blog. (with the possible, still unresolved exception of Chelsea from earlier in this competition)

    Bryce –

    While your support is odd, we are right on this one.

    Necktie Jess –

    I view your loss with the same level of heartache as I did that of the 07 Suns. What might have been…

    • Bryce, Brad, and Whoever else —
      Let me level with you: My childhood was horribly, terribly painful. Every day. Behind a carefully-crafted layer of “quirkiness” is a deep, deep, deep vat of humiliation.

      Take a moment to read through 18 years of my life through the eyes of a kid who was ashamed of virtually everything about herself. Telling it as a “funny story” makes it palatable, but the reality was daily torment.

      I was a child so socially backward that I didn’t realize what ‘dress up’ meant. The Red Bathrobe Day, I got dressed that morning thinking “Maybe today I’ll fit in and make friends.” You can see the excitement on my face at the thought of finally being part of something. Then instead, I spent a solid day trying not to cry as people openly mocked me.

      Kendall suffered from polka dot underwear, and that was the biggest travesty of her life. I had HAND-ME-DOWN underwear. She was embarrassed to drop her little wooden prop during her routine. I WAS EMBARRASSED TO EXIST.

      It’s taken my entire life to learn that being a dork is a step up from being an outcast. If I can make people laugh with me about my faults, then they have nothing left to ridicule me for. They can’t hurt me anymore.

      So there’s the lesson that has taken me 30 years to learn about awkwardness: Embrace it and laugh at it when you see it in yourself, and suddenly it’s not so bad. Wasn’t that the whole point of this contest?

      With that in mind, we’ve all won. Kendall made it through the valentine’s erection date, the disco ball uniform, the aborted bus kiss, and the polka dots seen ’round the world, and ultimately found a wonderfully loving guy who’d never survive in prison. I made it through the shirt, the hair, the bathrobe, the vomit, and the flute, and still turned out to be a fairly neat girl.

      I don’t care how the votes turn out. Everyone who survived the childhood-through-teenage years and lived to tell the tale with any semblance of humor is a winner in my opinion.

      • Sarah,

        You spin a very sad yarn, there’s no question about that. And I am truly sorry for the pain you experienced growing up (and maybe still do). But like you said, we’ve all been there. You’ve made a compelling case that you had it worse than most and that sucks for you, no doubt. But as Fake Josh, the sundress photo, and your apparent medical degree can attest, you turned out ok too.

        The thing is, this is not a tournament of embarrassing stories, we all have embarrassing stories. Sure, I walked into the girl’s bathroom by mistake on the first week of second grade when I moved to the “back hall” of my elementary school with all the older kids and yes I got made fun of for it EVERY time we walked by the door on the way to the cafeteria for the next 4 years. Everyone reading this blog has an embarrassing bathroom story. And yes, I worked hard all season to earn the top seed in my league’s championship swim meet only to swim freestyle for the first 25 meters of the 50 meter butterfly event, turning what might have been my greatest moment of triumph into my greatest moment of shame. We all have stories of doing the opposite of everyone else at the wrong time. This isn’t a tournament about silly stories where we can make fun of ourselves.

        Its a tournament of awkwardness and I have to look to the photographic evidence. Lets be frank, the south pacific version of Oliver Twist, or “the haircut” as you call it, is the cutest thing this tournament has seen this side of T-mac’s golden locks. This is not awkward, its precious. And I’ve already expressed all I have to say about the bathrobe picture. Now if we had a picture of you in the bathrobe with all your classmates in their suits and dresses, this might be a different story, but that still feels like an embarrassing moment more than and indication of deep awkwardness. Yes, the polka dots were just an embarrassing moment also, but when I look at that disco ball photo it reeks of “awkwardness,” when I look at the bathrobe it screams “happiness.” The polka dots really only add fuel to what was already an extremely awkward fire.

        I’m sorry that you did not feel comfortable in your own skin, but Kendall has provided us photographic evidence of herself actually trying to crawl out of her skin (do you see the posture and expression in the V-day pic, she is literally trying to wrap her whole self into her arms and suck her face into her own throat), you have given us photos of yourself looking good and loving life.

        With this tourney, Jamey has masterfully created a world in which compliments are hurtful and hurt feelings are a source of joy, but Sarah, just accept the compliments we are all giving you and feel good about yourself. You are clearly a great person. Kendall is also great (I think its obvious at this point that I actually know her), but DAMN, that girl was awkward!

      • “Everyone who survived the childhood-through-teenage years and lived to tell the tale with any semblance of humor is a winner…”

        Sarah – Well said! You and Kendall were both excruciatingly awkward. The primary difference seems to be in how much money your families earned. She was the uncomfortable girl wearing nice clothes, and you were the uncomfortable girl in home-sewn crap. Doesn’t matter. You were both awkward as hell, and you both made it through that to become beautiful, accomplished women who can laugh about it in retrospect.

        Bryce – You completely missed her point, which is a shame. You can stop campaigning for your friend now, because she has already won this popularity contest. (How ironic that even an Awkwardness contest would turn out to be a popularity contest in the end.)

        Now, about that “Let the awkward people breed” charity fund: How can I contribute?

          • Like a Horatio Alger scholarship, but with a makeover included. Maybe it should also include money to help the recipient transfer to a completely different town where no one knows what a hot mess he/she used to be in order to get a fresh start (aka going away for college). So in that case, it’s more like the Witness Protection Program than Horatio Alger.

            • Perhaps there’s a city that’s full of more awkward people than the other cities, and the scholarship could fund people’s moving expenses to that city? It’s essentially your Awkward Protection Program idea.

  12. I just wanted to thank everyone–especially those who commented–on making this this day the most viewed day in the history of this blog. The blog received over 1600 page views today. Hopefully that means that the true winner of this competition will emerge by Thursday thanks to a critical mass of voters (both biased and unbiased).

  13. Well, it was a good fight to the finish! And the most awkward of them all won this contest in spite of all my hard campaigning. We all have had “awkward” moments throughout life but Kendall truly shines with “Awesomeness” and not “Awkwardness”… I’m pretty sure she gets it from her Auntie! Nice contest folks! It was exciting til the end! I’ll be happy to match the donation for the charity of Kendall’s choice! Again, great contest Jamey! Sincerely, Kendall’s Aunt Carol

    • Let me get this straight…
      Aunt Carol thinks Kendall “shines with Awesomeness” and that Sarah is “the most awkward of them all.”
      Despite that, Aunt Carol is still out there drumming up the votes for Kendall. It doesn’t matter who she thinks the deserving winner is, it matters that she wants Kendall to win. The very definition of a popularity contest, but in the oddest of circumstances!

      Jamey, thank you for demonstrating pure social politics at their very best.

      • Sorry, Aunt Carol, but I tend to agree with Beth here (and I don’t know Beth in real life). I’m really hoping that people vote with their heart, not just because they know the person. So if you truly think that Kendall is the most awkward of the two, I completely support your vote. But if you voted for Kendall simply to support Kendall, I shall cry the tears of a thousand mer-men. And the same goes for Sarah’s supporters.

      • Beth, just to clarify, I wrote that because I mistakenly thought the contest had ended. Kendall was far behind in votes at the time and as any loving Aunt would do, I was trying to be comforting to her in her time of what I thought was defeat. I didn’t think I should say, “It’s okay Kendall, I know your Awkward AND now you’re also a Loser!” So, with sympathy… I LIED out of pity!I know Kendall is awkward but I also know she is pretty Awesome!! Fortunately, I was misinformed and the contest had not ended. On votes on Thursday will determine who will hold the title of “Awkwardness”!! Sorry for the confusion!

  14. I must’ve misunderstood, I thought the competition was over but it appears I was mistaken. I see the votes are still coming in and at this moment both ladies are tied. I look forward to seeing the final results on Thursday!! Good luck Kendall! I’m still spreading the word and recruiting those votes for you!!

    • Thanks Carol! That’s very generous of you to support Kendall in that way. Although the contest isn’t over yet–the polls will stay open until Thursday at noon. 🙂

  15. I just wanted to pop in and add my endorsement to the Kendall MAP 2012 camp. I met Kendall in college, after the awkwardness that’s been displayed here. As an awkward child myself, I was eager to make new friends in college and attempt to clear up some of my own awkwardness. I didn’t, but I did find a group of people who reveled in our mutual awkwardness. This is how I met Kendall. I assure you all Kendall is not just a cute girl who survived awkward moments. She may be adorable and of diminutive stature, but she was a gianormous part of our circle of awkward friends.

    • Thanks for your support, Sara! I know that Kendall appreciates your vote. If you have an awkward story about her from college that would help her case, feel free to share it here. 🙂

  16. Jamey,

    I think you need to distill this tournament down into a 45 minute “you can survive adolescence” presentation that will be required viewing for middle schoolers across the country. The royalties could be donated to the “Let the awkward people breed” charity fund”.

      • In all seriousness, Imposter Josh and Bryce, that’s a pretty great idea. I think everyone struggles with awkwardness at some point, and it might be nice to let kids know that (a) it gets better and (b) awkwardness becomes really endearing later in life. It’s the people who completely rid themselves of awkwardness who become really boring.

  17. This Josh-off (which sounds a little dirty) is strikingly familiar. Short term readers may be amused to learn that this is not the first time has been the forum for the rights to a blog-posting name.

    The diligent long-term reader will recall that, in a mighty fall from grace, I once lost the rights to posting on this site as “T” in a battle of haikus. Like the Declaration of Independence in “National Treasure,” that right has since been restored, but it smacks of the filth and disgrace that one might smell in a stolen van used to film a porno and then returned, so “T” has never again found it’s way onto this blog.

    Read about that ballyhoo here:

    Take heed, though, Joshes. This is a dangerous path on which you’re about to embark.

  18. Here’s another Kendall-dote to reinforce some of Bryce’s nerdy vs. awkward argument. He’s right, they’re very different.

    In college, Kendall was inducted into the National Latin Honors Society. That’s nerdy. She accomplished this because she got her days mixed up and showed up thinking it was an induction into the Spanish Honors Society. She sat through the entire dinner and ceremony before realizing her mistake. When asked why she didn’t question the fact that she couldn’t understand the “Spanish” being spoken, she replied, “I thought I was just nervous.” That’s awkward!

    • Josh–That’s amazing. So essentially, Kendall now is both in the National Latin Honors Society and the National Latina Honors Society?

  19. Good gracious, now I’m GLAD I didn’t make it to the finals. This is so like the Republican Presidential Primaries in reverse but with just as much mudslinging.

    Kendall may have been the most awkward in her popular clique (just how many of the 1600 website hits were her friends?), but Sarah is a living, breathing tribute to awkwardness. She has set the bar ridiculously high–er, low– for this new generation of aspiring dorks. A second place finish will only further gild her legacy as the most awkward; she’ll be the girl too awkward to win a tournament of awkwardness.

  20. Dear Jayme,

    It would only make sense that the winner should be the girl who gets the least amount of votes for most awkward, hense proving the poor girl is THAT awkward, that she lost an awkward contest. This is not a popularity contest, but an awkward child contest…..The girls have put up a great awkward case, however it is obvious that Kendall is more like a something about mary awkward that all the people like and boys want, and had her parents on her team to rectify her social shortcomings. Sarah appears to be truely awkward, and never even had the resources to dig herself out of the awkward pit of shame.

    Just my opinion,


    • I certainly like that concept, but it’s a little too late to implement it at this point. The person with the fewest votes can certainly walk away with their head held high as the person who was too awkward to win a tournament of awkwardness.

  21. It’s not surprising that Kendall would wear a tree skirt as a shawl… she rocked that tree skirt! I wouldn’t doubt it a bit if she continued to wear it even after her sister told her it belongs under a Christmas tree and not draped around her shoulders. If we were to check Kendall’s closet today, we might just find that tree skirt still hanging there with the rest of her wardrobe. When Kendall was a little girl her Mom made her a Christmas sweatshirt. It was vibrant in color, it had bows and jingle bells neatly hand sewn on the front and shiny puffy paint outlined the Christmas themed artwork. We all get together as a family on Christmas each year at her parent’s house. This past Christmas, Kendall wore the same sweatshirt, just as she has many times in years past. The shirt has faded, doesn’t fit her very well anymore and is missing the majority of the bows. The shirt that was once filled with colorful painted jingle bells, only had a few random bells left hanging loosely and the paint on them was mostly worn off. Scattered strips of worn out puffy paint were left on the sweatshirt, however most of it had fallen off over the years. Kendall is a beautiful girl but it’s time to toss out the old Christmas sweatshirt! Now that’s awkward!!

  22. Lol carol is telling the truth… Kendall still wears that home made christmas tree sweatshirt from like the sixth grade haha

    • I think we need photographic proof of this to post on the blog on Thursday night if Kendall wins. Does she wear it ironically, or does she genuinely enjoy wearing it and she isn’t 100% aware of how ragged the sweater is?

      • Kendall enjoys wearing it in spite of the age of the sweatshirt and the years of wear and tear! I’m pretty sure I can locate a photo by Thursday evening! When I do I will be sure to post it! What a hoot!! As much as we love her she really is bonafide, card carrying awkward!!

  23. Katie –

    That is a frightening picture. At first I laughed, another goofy Brad Baker right? Then I looked at the abnormally long neck. I noticed the strangely flat side of his face. He has a familiar smile, even with his buck teeth…

    Then I realized that Washington County is not to far from Canton, which is the Krypton of the Baker family. My grandfather had five brothers, all of whom stayed there. Point is, that is probably my family. The potential for that lies in my genetic code. Take away the mullet, mustache and buck teeth, and that’s me.

    Headed to the gym. Need to make sure I don’t turn into That Brad.

  24. Brad –
    I did not need to contemplate the thought that there could be more of you running around. I had been blissfully ignoring the fact that you had a genetic code or relatives.

    Jamey and Beth –
    On a related note, your idea upstream for an Awkward Protection Program might be good for some people (just be sure to place them in Canton, where Brad’s relatives will surely be more awkward than they are).

    Mere relocation wouldn’t work at all for Sarah, though. She is so catastrophically awkward that even in a foreign country people pick her out as the weak link in the herd. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes during a medical trip to the Dominican Republic. We were all dressed in the exact same scrubs, so it wasn’t as though Sarah was flying the freak flag, but somehow the locals still knew.
    A lady came straight up to her, said that Sarah’s uterus must be old and shriveled, but that she was sure she could probably still find some “very potent” Dominican men who could impregnate Sarah.
    That’s awkward enough on its own, but Sarah was really flustered so as she turned to go she tripped over her own feet and fell flat on the ground. Instead of helping her up, the Dominican lady just handed her a man’s phone number and said “You’ll need this VERY much.”

    Catastrophically. Awkward. On multiple continents.

    • KM–This is definitely comment of the month material. I think the line about Sarah’s uterus might be one of my favorites ever on this blog. Thanks for sharing.

      • KM-

        As guardian of the comments section, I usually give a pass to those with whom I am unfamiliar. You, however, have come at me with a direct blow, bursting onto the scene with a villainy not seen since Maxwell Nerdstrom began Jessie’s long, sad decline to the pole.

        I will give you one (1) day to retract your statement, or join Bryce, Katie, Ryan Gosling, Johnny Dakota and the 23 other people who have personally wronged me on my List of Enemies. This is not somewhere you want to be.

        Jamey, start the clock.

        • Brad, be nice to the new commenters. I want them to find the comments section to be a warm, welcome space that they feel comfortable returning to on future entries.

  25. OMG that’s hilarious and awful! How do they manage “pick her out as the weak link in the herd”? Pheremones? Did some sort of international reputation precede her?

    More importantly, that story is proof that the “Let the Awkward People Breed” league is already active in the Dominican Republic. Maybe they could give us pointers on how to start a successful chapter in the USA.

    We could start in Washington County/Canton.

  26. Wow, the end of a great tournament!
    As AD said way up at the top:
    – Kendall wins the Tournament of Awkwardness
    – Sarah wins the Special Olympics of Awkwardness

    Kendall deserves to be congratulated, and she should hug her Aunt Carol for doing some truly awesome campaigning.

    Sarah, meanwhile, should write a book. Just the sampler she gave us here was some of the funniest and most cringe-inducing narrative I’ve ever read.

    Jamey, will this become an annual thing?

    • Beth,

      I will be officially awarding the title to Kendall tonight with a few twists and a surprise for the runner-up. I think both of them could potentially write a book, but for now I’d highly suggest Sarah’s blog, which is often hilarious:

      Last year I did a Tournament of Cuteness (), and this year the Tournament of Awkwardness. I’ll probably do something different next year, but if people keep sending me awkward photos, I might consider a mini-tournament. Any idea for future tournaments?



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