When did life get so socially awkward in Melbourne?

Get the latest from Beat


When did life get so socially awkward in Melbourne?

Words by Arielle Richards

Is it me? Or is it the several months we all spent in isolation, with only housemates, maybe a significant other, potentially an exercise pal here or there, and many, many digital faces for company. Such a small group of people were for a time, the only proof that a life outside the walls of your very own house could even exist. And now here we are, back to “normal”.

Here are some terribly awkward situations you might be familiar with, distilled into timeless moments.

The awkward moment when…

Small talk

What on earth is small talk? Chit chat? Hasn’t this so-called society evolved past a need for small talk? Do we really need to punish ourselves further? With small talk, everybody loses. After months of retreating into myself, making small talk is now the largest task.

Yes, I can down half a bottle of wine and do big talk, big big talk. But no, I cannot bear to do the small, sober talk. So, if you see me, or anyone you might have to engage in chit chat with out in public just smile and nod. This is a public service announcement. Thank you.

Every pub is full

In the mood for a spontaneous drink? Think again. Once upon a time, hitting every single bar from Fitzroy to Abbotsford might have been a fabulous, frenzied night. These days it means you had the audacity to think you could just walk into a bar for a casual drink without booking.

The question is, how many establishments will you wander over to in the hopes there might be a table free? How much are you willing to put on the line? It’s a mighty fine way to walk a few kilometres, maybe run up your step count. If you can handle the constant disappointment and shame, that is.

Someone asks you what you’ve been up to

Not to be dramatic but this might be the worst possible question falling out of people’s mouths these days. What have I been up to? The question obliterates my personality, wipes my brain blank and activates my flight or fight response. I don’t even have the cognitive function to make something up – only sassy answers seem adequate.

“I don’t know Susan, living? Mind your business Susan… What have you been up to Susan?

The question shouldn’t be so hard to answer, and they were probably just trying to make conversation, but now we both regret it.

It’s Tuesday and you’ve forgotten to book the pub for next Saturday

Embarrassing for you. Gone are those pipe dreams of an ice cold negroni and divine dinner post-lockdown. It’s high time you figured out that walk-ins are dead, the new normal isn’t just hedonistic leisure, it’s a race where only the prepared, committed and organised will win. The prize? The luxury of blowing all the money you don’t have on a night out on the town. Think of it like a club, except if you wanna go out, you’ve gotta be on the guestlist for the dinner table. And you’ve gone and goofed it. Again.

It finally happens. You bump into a colleague in public

As if this situation wasn’t awkward enough pre-COVID. Somehow, Zoom meetings and online collaboration has made work feel more personal than in the literal workspace. They’ve pretty much been into your home, on your personal laptop and all. And still, the experience hasn’t managed to bring anyone closer.

Bonus points if it’s someone you only met once or twice before lockdown, and you had completely forgotten what they looked like from the shoulders down.


Everyone in Melbourne has the exact same idea as you

It’s stunning outside. You and a few friends are heading to your favourite secluded swimming spot in Eltham for some wholesome day beers and serenity. Sike, so is everyone else. It’s not all bad, being around so many people is a pretty nice change. But between the kids and the dogs and the shirtless individuals blasting Post Malone from a literal boombox, it’s sensory overload.

Fun things cost money

Selective memory. The thing about pining for and reminiscing on all the good nights out you used to have, is that those memories conveniently leave out the price tag. Good things come at a price, but I don’t remember it being this steep. Quick math in your head as you examine the bill brings you to a sobering conclusion. You could have bought a whole slab for those six pints you just had. But hey, it was worth it. Don’t forget to tip!

Keen on another fun read? Check out our piece on the things we’ll never take for granted again after 111 days in lockdown. 

Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.