What a Nice Guy by Phil Torcivia

Friday, December 9, 2011

An introvert’s guide to attending social mixers.


If you’re the life of the party who flits around filling wine glasses and karaoke request sheets, your presence is not required here. Go make some napkin animals, deviled eggs, mini-cupcakes, or something. Seriously, go away. Shoo!

Ah, serenity.

All my fellow introverts remain. Now we can discuss strategies to seem extroverted without turning into that annoying you-know-who (who had better not still be reading this).

You’re going to be invited to parties, friend. You can’t keep tossing random excuse after random excuse at the party hosts or you’ll be left holding your pet. Let’s scratch these excuses from our repertoire:
  • “Oh, gee, sorry. I have that thing I have to do.”
  • “Unfortunately, I’m going to be out of town.”
  • “I feel like I have a cold coming on.”
  • “I have to work.”
  • “I have another event I must attend.”

The host will accept your excuse but she’ll also know you’re ducking her.

The next invitation you receive must be returned with the “I will attend” box checked. Ideally, you’ll also have a plus one or more. If the host greedily placed a line after the box reading something like, “I will be bringing [insert food and drink thingies],” I have some suggestions:
  • Mini-carrots and mayonnaise packets
  • Doritos
  • Vanilla soda
  • Blue Jell-O cubes
  • A bib

Now, always arrive to the party early. This is crucial because you need to scout the area and claim a space. I typically bring a jacket and drape it over a chair in the far corner facing the front door. We introverts like crowds as long as we have our people-free zone. Outdoor parties allow for the digging of a moat. Indoor, not so much. Block yourself in with chairs, stool, and ottomans.

Since the extroverts will be dodging around the place pressing palms and patting shoulders, you’d be wise to stay put and let them come to you. When these grown infants corner you and suggest the following, smile and say “Fuck off” with your inside-your-head voice.
  • “Are you having a good time?”
  • “Have you met my Uncle Otis? He’s a hoot.”
  • “Are you feeling OK?”
  • “So, are you doing anything special for the holidays?”
  • “Are you still single? You should meet my cousin Agnes.”
  • “Why aren’t you dancing?”
  • “You’re totally stoned, aren’t you?”

A good way to keep yourself amused while repelling these human mosquitoes is to latch on to another introvert and play a little game I like to call, “Holy shit, who dresses you?” You take turns pointing out the most awful sweaters, jeans, shoes, and Botox blunders.

A poor strategy employed by some of my fellow intros involves being hunched on the sofa playing iPhone word games. It’s not so much that it’s rude. We each could use a chubbier vocabulary. (In fact, go look up “codswallop.” It’s a good one to deploy when Betty accuses you of being unsociable.) The problem is it will cause premature curvature of the spine.

When the last guests arrive, it’s a good time to leave. If you don’t leave at the busiest time, you may be stuck saying goodbye to the hosts, who will once again badger you with accusatory questions. Exits are easy. Grab a beer from the cooler in the garage and keep walking. Make it a road soda. Pretend you have a call and no reception inside the house, then sneak away. Go have a smoke. You don’t smoke? Well, maybe it’s a good time to start.

Be prepared for the “What happened to you?” emails and text-messages the following day. Best to delete them and, if you’re asked, say you’ll check your junk mail folder and get back to them.

2 comments:

  1. Well done! The "Holy shit, who dresses you?" game is a favorite of mine, along with "Who's secretly fucking whom?"

    If I don't think I'm gonna know enough people at any gathering, I'll drag someone with me whether I'm supposed to or not. Having a compatriot with whom you can mock the others is the best way to make it through any event, especially the ones you don't particularly want to go to, but are somehow obligated to attend.

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  2. Why the hell didn't I find this before I went to that Christmas party last Saturday night. I'll be prepared next year.

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