I hope I don't see anyone I know

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I've been thinking about it and have come to the conclusion that the phrase "I hope I don't see anyone I know" is profoundly flawed. We think or utter this phrase out of worry, because we hope that by not seeing anyone we know, we can avoid embarrassment. (I know there may be other reasons, but this post deals with the embarrassment factor.)

My conclusion is that there's no reason to be embarrassed. Why? If you're doing something which causes you to hope no one you know is there to see you doing it, you must perceive the activity to be embarrassing, wrong, or somehow out of character. (What spurred me to think about this was a trip to the mall. Very out of character.)

But here's the good part. There are two likely outcomes. If you do see someone you know, and if they also perceive the action/location to be embarrassing, then they, too are guilty. The two of you have equal leverage. You both know something embarrassing about the other. You both keep the secret for your own sake.

The other scenario is more pleasant. It's quite possible (like in my mall experience) that the person you know will take the location/activity to be completely normal. S/he enjoys visiting/doing it, which means that it should seem completely normal that you do, too. Your stock rises in the eyes of your observer. S/he perceives you to be more a member of her/his tribe than before the encounter. Win.

In short, it's a flawed sentence, provided that it's uttered out of fear of embarrassment. Whether through mutual squeamishness or increased affect, you avoid negative judgement. As I said before, win.

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