Even at the ever-elusive college party, with beer sloshing out of red Solo cups and strangers rhythmically groping in the corner, there are still a select few who stick out more than a freshman wearing a lanyard. Ever showed up to a party dressed for the wrong theme? Or been wrongfully accused of stealing Cheez-Its from a frat? Don’t worry – it happens. But even when I’m not being questioned about the whereabouts of a box of white cheddar Cheez-Its that I promise I know nothing about, I still find myself hyperventilating at the thought of social interaction. Don't worry, I have picked up a few tips along the way for those who are always at a loss in the middle of a sweaty, drunken crowd.
1. Hold a cup so you don’t have to touch people
Not sure how to greet that girl you talked to once in your sociology class? How about that guy you shared a table with in periodicals last week? A hug feels too friendly, but a handshake too formal. Never fear! You don’t have to touch anyone again with my nifty little drink trip. If you’re holding a drink and your phone, there’s no way you can also greet someone.
Ugh I would totally give you the appropriate physical greeting but like I’m holding my phone AND this cup and that’s honestly just a lot for me to handle so I’ll just stand here.
2. Take as many pictures as you can with people you don’t really know
Take a look at any girl’s freshman year Facebook album, and I guarantee you it’s filled with her hugging hundreds of people she won’t even make eye contact with on Sheridan anymore. Why go to all this effort for people you don’t even know? Turns out if you’re taking pictures all night, you’ll be too busy to realize that you’ve lost all your friends and aren’t sure how to get home. But who cares? At least it’s something to do.
Pro Tip: Take as many iterations of the same photo for maximum effect. One smiling, one silly, one with you in the middle and a few more just in case none of those turned out quite right.
3. Don't watch people make out
Don’t do this twice and definitely don’t get caught both times. Don’t then go up to the couple and try to talk to them. No, they don’t want to talk.
4. Get one really good joke (also known as my bartender bit)
If you have one really good joke, people tend to associate you with that joke and actually think you’re funny! Mine is the bartender bit – a long-running gag of me standing behind a bar and, you guessed it, pretending to be a bartender. Don’t take my bit – that’s mine. But definitely get your own! It’s a great boost when conversations start to lag.
5. Don’t call anyone by a name unless you are 100 percent sure you are correct
Unless I see you on a daily basis, I probably don’t know your name. And even some of the people I do see every day are forever known as “the boy in econ who bites his pen” and “that girl I ran next to in SPAC last week.” I promise it’s not meant to be rude, but when I’m running on overdrive (or slightly intoxicated), names are the last thing on my mind. Unfortunately, that person you’ve kind of known for six months now really doesn’t like being asked for their name again. So now, I tend to stay away from first names. There’s a plethora of ways to get around this, whether you choose uncomfortably intense eye contact or incessant taps on the person’s shoulder, it’s entirely up to you.
6. Look like someone famous
I don’t look like anyone famous, but I imagine this would be a great conversation starter. You could even make it into your own bit (see #4).
7. Walk around and tell people you’re “looking for your friends” until you find someone to hang out with
This one’s a real shot in the dark because sometimes people just don’t care and won’t talk to you. But, if you’re lucky, you can masterfully weave your way in and out of the sweaty crowds under the premise of “looking for a friend,” just to scope out the scene and pick your best option. Beware: you may just get yourself more lost and actually lose your friends, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take – are you?
So yeah – that’s all I’ve got after a year and a bit of college – just seven tips on how to avoid looking awkward. I’m working on it. If you see me at a party, please don’t say hi, because I probably won’t know what to do.