Awkwardness is pervasive, and it’s not limited to television or film: it stalks us everywhere. We watch awkward situations in everyday life as though we’re gaping at a car accident. We are masters at diagnosing it, if not avoiding it. American adolescents, whose unevenly developing bodies give them a hard-won expertise in the topic, are at the forefront here, with their simple exclamation: “Awkward!” There are self-help books for dealing with awkward co-workers, and on weekends and holidays we must deal with the awkwardness of family gatherings, where people united by blood kinship find they can’t exchange even the most innocuous opinions without risking tension—and somehow the very act of withholding one’s views, meant to avoid potential discomfort, itself winds up producing an awkwardness that’s all too actual.
Even by its very act of dying, then, my DVD player managed to bring awkwardness into my life, and it is to that faithful DVD player that I dedicate this book.