Situation #31 – You just don’t get it

15 08 2008

The situation: You and a friend are discussing the poetic nuances of the latest Pussycat Dolls hit, “When I grow up.” You assert that rhyming “nameless” with “name is” is nothing short of lyrical genius. Your friend counters that the words “genius” and Pussycat Dolls should not be used in the same sentence without the inclusion of the words “lack of”. You agree to disagree and move on to other matters of great importance.

Somewhere in the midst of this conversation, your friend casually tosses out a rather controversial statement, assuming (incorrectly) that you share her opinion on a divisive issue.

“Of course pirates are totally cooler than ninjas. You know how it is, right?”

Tread carefully here, Reader! Do not fall into the trap of the rhetorical “you know how it is, right?” This is not an invitation for you to explain that actually, you have no idea how it is, and in fact, you disagree entirely with everything she’s just said. The only socially acceptable answer to a rhetorical “you know how it is, right?” is a nod of the head and an “mmm hmmm” or possibly an “Amen, Sistah!” should you choose to agree in a more emphatic manner.

You don’t want to get into a whole debate about the relative merits of pirates and ninjas with your friend; you just want to escape from this conversational minefield with your loyalty to ninjas intact. However, you also don’t want to give your friend the impression that you totally agree that pirates are “totally cooler than ninjas.” This could lead to further awkwardness when your friend invites you to “Pirates of the Caribbean 4: Johnny Depp Wears Even More Eyeliner, Savy?” and you have to awkwardly decline. So, what do you do?

The solution: When you don’t want to agree with someone and are too lazy to have the debate that will inevitably follow from your disagreement, the best thing to do is this: Change the topic with a smooth conversational segue into a piece of pop culture trivia.

“Ah, speaking of ninjas, did you know that the voice of Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons was done by the actor who played Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air?”

Now, not only are you out of conversational hot water, your friend will admire your vast knowledge of early 90s television trivia.


Situation #28 – Hey…buddy?

31 07 2008

The situation: First, name forgetting is not in itself awkward. This is an inability that is treasured amongst social creatures. Name forgetting, however, can become awkward when you have been introduced to a person several times and still can’t remember their name, especially in presence of said person. Whenever you are in their presence, their flowing locks, scruffy beard and Birkenstock sandals can only bring to mind one name: Jesus. Or say when you met this person he/she was wearing a stripped t-shirt and a toque and was very good at blending into the background. From then on the only name that popped up when this person was seen or spoken of was Waldo. The awkwardness of not remembering this person’s name can be exacerbated if the person had a tendency to end every sentence with your name. Isn’t that awkward, reader?

The solution: An obvious solution is to have a sackful of generic names : buddy (best if pronounced bahhhhh-dee), pal, duder, man, home slice, road dawg, etc. This can be extremely helpful in dire situations; however, someone with Jesus-like intelligence or Waldo-like mystery may be able to see through it. So, here are some additional pointers:

1.) you cannot tell them they look like Jesus. As much as you think your insight is so original, they have heard it before and likely do not want to hear it again.

2.) if you see the person infrequently, then you can give a personalized nickname to them based on something in that moment. For instance, if they are drinking a slurpee, give them a “how’s it going, slurpee-man?” This may appear annoying, but not awkward and less transparent than simply “man”

3.) If you see them slightly more frequently and can remember some fact about them, say that Jesus is an avid cyclist, call him Wheel-y . This works best if you also get many other people in on this nickname. Awkwardness gone and you are the awesome friend who nicknamed someone!

Situation #25 – The repeated story

23 07 2008

The situation: Your friend is launching into a lengthy dissertation on the woeful state of Canadian eyewear manufacture, which promises to include several stories from his travels abroad.

“Did you know that Canada is a third world country when it comes to eyeglass manufacture?” Actually, you do know this. In fact, you’re somewhat of an expert on the topic, having heard this story at least three times before. How do you spare yourself from a fourth rendition of Swedish Spectacles of Grandeur without insulting your friend?

The solution: When faced with a repeated story, the first step is to assess your company. Ask yourself the following questions: Am I on a date? Am I talking with my boss, mother- or father-in-law, or other person of authority? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the risk of insult is too high – you’ll have to suck it up and sit through another telling of The Unbelievable Mischief I Got Into As a Young Boy. However, since you already know the appropriate places to laugh or express shock, you can free your mind for other tasks. Now is an ideal time to compose a mental grocery list or contemplate the intricacies of String Theory.

If you’re on a date, you’ll have to ask yourself an additional question: How attractive is this person? This is important because the number of times one can tolerate a repeated story is directly proportional to the attractiveness of the storyteller. Superficial? Probably, but that’s how it is. So, if your date is aesthetically gifted, we advise you not to interrupt, but to take this opportunity to gaze into his or her dreamy eyes, while flipping your hair flirtatiously. Of course if you’re male, you can ignore the hair flipping part. If you find that this still applies to you, we gently advise you to get a haircut, you Dirty Hippie!

If you’re with a friend, then you can use the repeated story to great advantage by jumping in with witty comments that your friend has used in the past. She’ll feel a new and undeniable connection with your brilliant humour. If you really can’t stand to hear the story again, stop your friend early on by saying “Oh, is this the one where you stumbled across the flagship Hakim Optical in the middle of Turkey just as one of your lenses fell out? That’s such a great story!” This way your friend will be aware that he’s already told you the story, but won’t feel bad, because he knows that you share a mutual understanding of the shameful state of Canadian eyeglass manufacture.

Situation #24 – What’d you say?

22 07 2008

The situation: picture yourself with a few friends in a bar. Not any bar, but a loud bar. To the left of you, a crowd is having an unruly discussion about the state of modern pop music. To the right, a group is debating the pros and cons of bar soap versus liquid body wash. There is a band playing some tragic indie rock. The result of all this is you can’t hear a damn thing. Your friend, farthest away from you, is telling you what seems to be a very entertaining story. His arms are flailing in enthusiasm, your other friends are engrossed in this story. He finishes his rant/story/spiel and looks at you, waiting for a response. Was your friend talking about his trek through Nepal, admitting his ongoing crush on Bea Arthur, or was he sadly recounting the details of his dogs death? You don’t know, but you do know you need to respond.

The solution: there are a few important tidbits that you should be aware of:

First, you can only ask someone to repeat something twice. After this, you look like a fool. When someone is telling a detailed story, asking someone to repeat a line of the story, twice, every thirty seconds can proove to be as annoying as PeeWee Herman’s laugh. Its best  to just admit to yourself you won’t catch the story and use this as an opportunity to work on your soothing sounds of understanding.

Second, be wary of responding with the standard “yeah, great” or “oh.” If someone just told you about loosing all their money in a pyramid scheme and you respond “great” or “oh”, you may be confused with a grade A douche. Perhaps even an A+ douche.

We see only one possible solution to this situation. After your friend looks at you for a response, nod with an inquisitive and thoughtful look on your face and then say “You know, this story really reminds me of my friend Paul. I think he would really appreciate what you just said, you would really like him.”

Potential future awkward, you friend asks you to meet this Paul character. Say he is working overseas with an NGO and won’t be back for years. Bonus points here because you have compared your friend to Paul, the generous creature who devotes his life to those less fortunate.

Situation #22 – Nothing to say

9 07 2008

The situation: You’re with a group of people, who all seem to know everything there is to know about carbon nanotube windmills. Huh? You have little conversation to offer and you can’t even think of any questions to ask. Time is dragging on: you feel as though you have had a slightly frightened look of puzzlement on your face for at least three weeks. What do you do?

The solution: Grab hold of any word someone says and use it to jumpstart story-time…about your awesomeness. “You know, those nanotubes remind me of the time I was surfing, it was tubular.”

Don’t have a good story? Well, just make it up; however, we advise to not tell a story about adventures based off a television show. Someone may have seen that episode of Perfect Strangers when Larry and Balki become invincible (alas…it was all a dream). Need a fake name for your story? Just look around you, pick the first thing you see and then add man. Now you have a valid last name. “Oh, my old friend Terry Phoneman, “I was palling around with Dan Brandyman”. Gold.

Situation # 19 – Stating the obvious

2 07 2008

The situation: Picture this, you and a friend are enjoying a couple delightful mojitos on a beautiful sunny patio, when, to your horror, your friend states the obvious. Now, this obvious statement can come in a couple different forms. First, it can be in the form of announcing something so obvious that even a blind kitten would know what was happening, such as “You finished your drink” or “Your shirt is fuchsia”. Obvious statements can also be in the form of repeating the last statement you just said. “Dude, mojito’s are delicious”, your friend “mojitos ARE delicious. ” Either way, these closed-ended obvious statements are conversation killers, leaving you awkwardly wishing your drink was not finished.

The solution:

One sure fire way to open the conversational door that obvious statements slams in your face is to use one liners. Hilarious one liners, may we add. We find the best way to do this is to summon the power of Sean Connery, the international man of one line quips, best seen in the  draction (drama action) movie ‘The Rock’.

For example: You and your friend are discussing last nights sporting event. Both of you watched this ‘event’, both of you know what happened, but your friend still states the obvious “Germany lost that game.”

To which, using your best Sean Connery impression (we advise stuffing your mouth with 5-7 marshmallows to get the perfect S.C. accent) quote one of his immaculate lines from the Rock:

“Losers always whine about their “best”! Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”

Or, if someone says “you are really between a rock and a hard place” after you stated that, in fact, you are between a rock and a hard place, just look at them, stuff your face with marshmallows and reply:

“Welcome to the Rock”

Situation #17 – The spontaneous reunion

26 06 2008

The situation: You’re working on the Saturday crossword over a coffee at your local Starbucks, when a guy who is only vaguely familiar approaches your table, claiming to recognize you from somewhere. Quick, what’s a seven-letter synonym for uncomfortable?

If you choose to go down the “Where do we know each other from?” path, you will inevitably arrive at some unsatisfying conclusion, such as the realization that you once shared crayons in kindergarten. Then you will engage in strained reminiscence. “Remember how you couldn’t pronounce ‘l’s so you kept asking to borrow my boo?” Now you are left to account for the last twenty-some-odd years of your life. It’s similar to the oft-dreaded high school reunion but without the opportunity to rent a Rolls Royce ahead of time.

The solution: Whenever someone approaches you and says “Excuse me,don’t I know you from somewhere? …You were in my class!” there is one and only one acceptable response:

“I was your teacher.” And it is imperative that you say this with a feigned British accent and a smugness reserved only for those who had the foresight to protect their skin from fine lines and wrinkles while still in the midst of puberty. All other responses you may think of on the spot will only put you on the fast track to Awkwardville.

Frankly, who cares where you actually know each other from? Whatever the answer is will only provide you with a very limited means of relating to each other. If you can’t bond over a shared appreciation for early 90s Oil of Olay commercials, there is no hope for you anyway.