It’s a party weekend for America, which means it’s time for some tough talk: Social anxiety is not a legitimate reason to skip a party. We only have a few days left on earth. We’re not even sure what we’re commemorating, but it’s going to matter. Socializing, like eating vegetables and exercising, is good for you.
I know it’s hard. But I’ve accumulated tips since high school to manipulate people into thinking I’m a lot of fun. They work. And in my capacity as a professional blogger and Royals correspondent for Gawker.com, I am here to share them with you.
Do not pregame
Last Memorial Day, I was so nervous to go to a barbecue thrown by a person I adore and respect in personal and professional capacities that I drank three vodka-lambrusco cocktails called “The Vino Bambino” (I’d learned about the drink here, but it seems to have been taken off the menu, maybe for safety reasons) in my apartment before I left. I hadn’t socialized in two years. Then I drank an assorted four pack of Loverboy hard teas at the party because the Vino Bambino had me in a mindspace of awe and gratitude for the variety of flavors. I performed beautifully socially at the party, but then I barfed 30 seconds after exiting an Uber home and fell asleep before sunset.
I didn’t need the Vino Bambinos. The Loverboys were enough. Now I repeat this like a mantra. You might not drink, but this still applies in a general sense. You don’t need to worry or prepare for a party before a party. We’re not 23 anymore, and we’re not chasing vodka shots with rice cakes.
Say “That sounds hard.” when someone explains their job to you
Instead of talking about myself, I ask people what they do. They’ll say, “Account executive at a social strategy firm” or “fireman’s chief of staff.” I’ll say, “That sounds hard,” no matter what my personal assessment of their toil is. They’re flattered. Blinded by my empathy, they’re glad I’m taking interest in their important career, even if I only provided a stock response.
There you go: 20 minutes killed and a new friend who finds you to be more compassionate than you really are.
Always have a party trick ready
Mine is that I can do a horse noise. Not a neighing or a whinnying, but a clip-clop cadence formed by sucking my cheeks in and releasing the seal. Yours might be a kegstand or the ability to tie a cherry stem into a knot with your tongue. Spectacle is everything. But don’t overdo it! You don’t want to because the baby party clown.
Ask an invasive question and then go, “Oh my god, I’m sorry, I don’t know why I asked that.”
A classic manipulator’s move that’s made me most of many besties and boyfriends. They’ll overlook your boundary-stepping, appreciate your humility, then overshare with you. Then, you’ve got something on them for life.
Example conversation featuring made-up people:
Claire: How do you know Philip?
Elizabeth: Oh, we used to date actually.
Claire: Oh really? Drama!
Elizabeth: No, no. It’s chill. We just drifted apart.
Claire: Did you just slowly grow to find him repulsive as the days ticked by? Sorry! Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that. You know what I mean.
Elizabeth: No, no it’s okay. Sort of, yeah has a specific mirror face that sickens me if I think about it too hard. Don’t tell him I said that.
Claire: Of course not, sis. Friends forever, right?
Leave your phone by the door so you’re not tempted to text your fake Canadian boyfriend
You don’t want to be the one at a party who is so uncomfortable about standing alone that you overcompensate by looking engrossed in your phone. Even if you have a rich interior life, you might be susceptible to this classic evasion tactic. But this is now textbook behavior, transparent to both losers and children. Don’t text. Someone will approach you. And when they do, tell them their job seems hard. Allow for a natural lull but don’t rush it.
Then, AND ONLY THEN, pat your pockets and say, “I’m so sorry – I left my phone by the door and I’m realizing I was so engrossed in our conversation that I forgot to see if my [fake Canadian] boyfriend was off the train yet.” Then you can leave the conversation and reset a minute. You can even furrow your brow at your phone then and step outside, disappearing completely.
Take up smoking
Make sure they’re manual cigarettes, not vapes, because vapes you can smoke inside.
Bring a dish that allows for an easy communal activity, such as “slicing cake”
Everyone loves a person who brings a treat. Plus, it’s an easy way to get out of a conversation if you’ve already employed Claire’s Special Phone Trick. “Gotta cut the cake!” They already love you for asking follow up questions, and they’ll offer help. Don’t take it. You need a breather.
Make sure the cake is very good.
“Bringing a dog” also serves the same purpose as “slicing a cake,” if you happen to have a dog on hand before you leave. You can also bring a bottle of something and decorate it with stickers. It doesn’t matter if it’s swill or seltzer or this pink tequila endorsed by Maroon 5 I’d like to try. If you stick some puffy shiba inus or floral decals on there, everyone thinks you’re a thoughtful creative director. And you can also engage the host by making up some lie about why the placement of the art is meaningful.
Don’t ever tell a story revolving around a meme, an article, or a YouTube video
I don’t know how to explain to you that this has never been a fun time for anyone.