FUNNY WOMEN #76: A Person with Severe Social Anxiety Imagines What Will Happen If Seen Tripping on a Sidewalk


You! Rebecca Victoria O’Neal! I’ve just seen you trip on the sidewalk, confirming a long-held suspicion that you are a Bad Person with Whom I’d Never Hang Out.

You don’t know me, but 100% of our friends are mutual. In confidence, when people who meet rigorous criteria to which you will never be privy are present, it is often said how abnormal you are and that my life is greatly improved for never having had the misfortune of talking to you. I’ve extrapolated from your Facebook pictures, the viewing of which is considered a daring parlor game in fancy company, that you’d be uncoordinated and boring, but I’d not imagined just how upsetting I’d find your clumsiness. All my preconceived prejudices of you have been confirmed today.

I managed to suppress the bile rising in my throat – my reaction to you tripping on the sidewalk – just long enough to Tweet a pithy take-down of your hair, clothes, and station in life. It was immediately Retweeted by your favorite celebrity and unrequited grade school crush (whom we all know are now dating each other). I now have 5,000 new followers, and I will use many of their responses to my Tweet as praise on the jacket of my next novel. I write novels. I hear you’d like to do that, which I find both adorable and very sad.

Your presence and literal misstep here – on this sidewalk – are matters of grave seriousness and have lowered local property values. In our current economic climate, that makes you UnAmerican. I – and the United States Government – will treat this as an act of domestic terrorism. This will come as no surprise to the members of your graduating class who voted you Most Likely to Be a Terrorist & Trip on Sidewalks & Ruin Everything but Also Who Are We Even Talking About Because This Person Was So Insignificant As to Leave No Impression on My Memory and I Will Forget She Ever Existed After This Ballot Is Cast. Forgotten!

Science says that babies are innate judges of worth and character. Accounts of infants weeping at the mention of you tripping on sidewalks have reached potential employers who at first had thought your résumé a prank, but now know it to be a jinx. Each of the companies to which you had the audacity to apply are now either bankrupt or burned to the ground, their proprietors arrested for association with a known terrorist.

It is rare that PETA, the ASPCA, and puppy mills unify on any point, but in a joint press release, the organizations have agreed that you – a person who has just tripped on a public sidewalk – are not a friend to animals.

News of this latest bungle – you tripping in public on the sidewalk – has prompted a former lover to come out and relay displeasure at his own bad judgement and the ungainliness of your body, the dimensions of which have been described to a police sketch artist in hopes that the resulting image can be used in a PSA to warn of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.

All of your poor choices up to this point – especially the fact that I’ve just witnessed you tripping on the sidewalk in plain sight – have earned you the shame you now feel. Any rebellion against these feelings would result in further soiling of your already ruined reputation. Please resign your attempts to salvage this day as you have humiliated yourself, your family, your former employers and lovers, and have extended a cloud of suspicion over even friends of friends. An infectious sense of melancholy hangs from you like a foul odor on a black night.

What a coincidence for me, the coolest person you’ll never really know, to have witnessed what you must suspect is your lowest moment – you tripping on this sidewalk. But you will soon view this as a mild embarrassment compared to what are inevitably your many, more monumental failures to come.

As soon as you’re out of earshot – and perhaps a few moments before – everyone you’ve ever met will converge on this point – where you tripped on the sidewalk – to discuss at length what a mark against them it is to have heard of you. Good luck getting a boyfriend now.

Your foolishness – the foolishness that lead you to trip, on the sidewalk no less – is mythical. In the future, unexaggerated tales of your blunders will be thought the fabrications of a long forgotten and superstitious age.

If I had the time, I would outline for you all the ways in which you are uncouth (chief among them being the way you just tripped on the sidewalk). Still, this brief meeting – here on the sidewalk where I saw you trip – has confirmed each charge of ugliness, buffoonery, and untrustworthiness I’ve ever heard laid against you (and the reports have been numerous, the particulars of which I’d dared not give credence until this moment). You will remain in the very peripheries of my life, never to penetrate the coterie of artists, models, genuises, award-winners, and job-havers I call my friends, and I will hold this encounter as the standard by which I select my enemies. For that, and nothing else ever, I thank you for tripping on the sidewalk.


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Rebecca O'Neal edits Splitsider's Humor Section and promises she's not as nuts as this piece probably makes her seem. Like everyone else, she writes things on the Internet, sometimes not on the Internet, and Tweets. More from this author →