Wednesday, 1 July 2015

How reading can help you escape awkward social situations

Shoutout to all my fellow anti-social teenage ninjas. Never again will you have to face the scary outside world unarmed – I’ve finally come up with the solutions to all your social struggles. (Pfft, from research… totally not from my own experiences.)

Yes, this is yet another blog about why books are awesome.

And yes, to all the other sociable people reading this blog, this is a ruse to get you to take up reading. Please. For the sake of all the readers who have to listen to you use the same fifteen words over and over again (just a suggestion – there are about 900 better words to use than “cool” and “jol”, all of which can be discovered through the magical world of *insert rainbows* literature). 

Note: The obvious solution to all of these problems is just to stay at home and read... but my therapist tells me that staying at home for my entire life and avoiding socialisation at all costs will result in me never getting a "proper job" to pay for my expensive reading habits.

Social Struggle #1: The “how-much-longer-do-I-have-to-sit-here-and-look-like-a-total-loner-before-she-shows-up” Restaurant Endeavor

We’ve all been there. You agreed to meet your friend at Tasha’s at 19:30. She’s fifteen minutes late, and you have to sit at a table alone with nothing to do because you’re all out of data on your cellphone, so you can’t scroll aimlessly through social media and pretend you have a life. People are casting suspicious glances your way, perhaps wondering if you’re some sort of terrorist waiting for the perfect moment to blow yourself up, or even a homicidal maniac, eating dinner as a recluse whilst you carefully select your next victim. The waiter thinks you’ve been stood up – what a loser. You can practically feel the cold judgment pricking at your skin.

Ideal outcome: You don’t look like a total hermit staring at the wallpaper or scrolling though your camera roll until she arrives.

Solution: Download the Kindle app on your phone before you go out, and then buy an e-book. This way, when you’re sitting all alone at the table, you can pretend to be doing something socially acceptable like scrolling through Twitter, but you’re actually reading a damn good book without facing judgment for being “antisocial”.

Social Struggle #2: The “why-do-I-always-forget-to-bring-a-rape-whistle-to-these-things” Party Expedition

Your friends have dragged you out to some ridiculous social gathering and some weirdo has approached you to “chat”. Let’s be honest, after about three hours at somebody’s house party, the only people actually having fun are those who are either passed out or hopelessly intoxicated. It’s cold outside, but inside smells like sweat and weed and booze, and your legs are aching because there’s not a single place to sit that hasn’t been baptized in vodka. The last thing you want to do is engage in a conversation with somebody who starts off on the predictable, red-alert note of: “Aw, you don’t look like you’re having too much fun, babe.” Forced, polite conversation only makes it worse.

Ideal outcome: 1. He leaves. 2. You get to go home without offending anybody.

Solution: Start quoting some random, verbose, intellectual novel in short bursts of prose. (Try go for the least clichéd quotes, and avoid declarations of love at all costs. Societal commentaries are a safe bet – they use big, confusing words.) Giggle at random intervals, but otherwise keep a deadpan tone and a straight face. If he still hasn’t left when you run out of quotes, stumble away quickly, as if you’re just as drunk as the girl hanging over the speaker. Call a cab. Leave.

Ulysses is full of confusing, intellectual... stuff. Perfect for all
your anti-social escape-route needs.

(This method is so much more fun than just yelling, “OH MY GOD, LEAVE.” And so much more humane.)

Social Struggle #3: The “if-one-more-person-tells-me-how-much-I’ve-grown-I’m-going-to-start-throwing-things” Family Reunion

Family reunions are unbearable, especially because everybody there feels as though they have the right to comment on your lifestyle choices because of a combination of excess “family spirit” and too much red wine. For example, almost every time we have extended-family gatherings, somebody feels that it’s necessary to somehow comment on how my choice of university for next year has what they refer to as a “bad rep”: “Better make sure your liver’s ready, love! Ha-ha!” or, “Oh… that’s nice… Aren’t your parents worried you’ll turn into a hippie?” or even, “You know what pot is? Just don’t smoke anything anyone gives you. I heard there’s a drug gang in that area.” Um. Thanks. So, just because I’m going to university automatically makes me a drug addict, a hippie and an alcoholic. Glad to know my family's so well-educated on stereotyping and generalisations.

Ideal outcomes: 1. Shut everybody up for just a few minutes. 2. Give them something to talk about at the next reunion – to which you will not be invited if it all goes according to plan.

Solution: There’s always at least one other person in the family who’s vaguely similar to you – that is, they also wish they were in bed with a book, and it shows. I have three: father, sister, and uncle. If you don’t have a significant other to talk to, just talk to yourself. This solution involves roleplaying, which under any other circumstances I am completely and utterly opposed to, so don’t @ me about it. Prepare a scene beforehand in which you and your partner-in-crime pretend to be two characters from a book you’ve both read. (Preferably something extremely weird and wonderful, like The Hobbit or even Twilight – we’re going for a shock-and-awe kind of response.) Include actual dialogue, but feel free to be creative. Recite your lines loudly and dramatically, responding aggressively when your mom tries to laugh it off and tells you to “stop playing around”. Hopefully, you’ll eventually be escorted off the property by an extremely annoyed (but secretly relieved) parent.

Alternatively, buy a bunch of clichéd T-shirts and wear them out in public. This way, you can simultaneously warn people against talking to you, and apologise for your anti-social-ness without even having to open your mouth!

This blog went places I never expected it to go. Nonetheless, I hope you have been thoroughly entertained.

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