I'm very much like a succubus when it comes to friends. That is, if we're friends, we probably have been for quite some time and/or our intimacy level is pretty high. This is not to say we've slept together or sobbed in each other's arms, but you've probably seen me in my sweatpants with food on my face. I'm not very good at keeping acquaintances casual or pals on the periphery. If we get along, I'm strapping myself in forever. Sorry Friends.
This does present problems, however, when I do meet people genuinely new to me, whether at a party, or through friends, or at work, or whatever. Even though this Big City is filled with people, I'm afraid, thanks to my existing connections with friends old and new, I don't know how to meet them anymore.
Dream: Meet and befriend a stranger.
Goal: Achievable. Though it feels like I've known the friends I have my whole life, at some point they were strangers to me. I must have said or done something to bridge the initial awkwardness of talking to a stranger. I suppose it's not all that different from flirting, but easier because there's less pressure to take your dink out at the end.
Plan: Stock up on tips and tricks necessary to win new pals should Ryan and Dana move to France, or Jonelle takes a trip in a hot air balloon and is never seen again. I need some spares! Here's a few surefire methods.
- Smell good. A malodorous person is never the hit of a party, so keep your breath fresh and your sweat somewhat contained. For a great signature scent, I recommend baking Christmas cookies and have someone crush them above your head and just “walk through” as they're doing it.
- Avoid talking sex or politics, but you can't go wrong with sexual politics. Try introducing yourself as a power-bottom to someone at the grocery store. Pick up a brand new friend with your milk and eggs.
- As soon as you learn someone's name, repeat it back to them. People love hearing their own name. “And what do you do, Kandi?” is a great follow-up if you meet a Kandi (although, spoiler alert, she's probably a stripper).
- Know your current events, but choose your topic judiciously. Did you hear about the real-estate prices in the south end of town? Great opener! Did you hear about the closing arguments in that child murder case? Way to bring the party to a halt.
- Tell someone he or she is such a great listener, even if they aren't. People love hearing they're great listeners, even if they don't hear another word you say.
- The more uncomfortable a woman's shoes, the more she wants to hear how good they look on her.
- Never mention how good a guy is at holding his stomach in. As a guy who routinely practices this move, I can safely say I never want to be called on it.
- Don't wear a tie the same colour as your shirt. This is not a joke or a bit. I can't even tell you how many people I see on the subway, at the office, at various funerals wearing a tie and shirt that literally match. Not co-ordinate, but match. Come on!
- If you're in a bar, don't bond over how loud it is. Everyone says that. Be more original, if only to garner more interest. Try, “I don't separate whites and colours when I do laundry. Just throw it all in there!”
I'm a real lucky guy because I rarely have to employ these techniques anymore. I feel like when God or Oprah or whoever was handing out bud-buds, I got the mother lode. But I'm a greedy so-and-so who could always use another movie date, drinkin' buddy, TLC doc-watcher, dining companion, shopping helper, brunch squad, book-exchange comrade, sleepover pal, and member of the karaoke coterie, and I'll bet you could too. So employ those techniques, or some of your own, and I'll see you at the grocery store.