How to Make Friends and Convince Them You Are Someone Fun and Not Insane and Worth Inviting Next Time
If you smoke and you’re around non-smokers, don’t smoke. If you don’t smoke and you’re around smokers, find something to do with your hands. Don’t recount dreams, unless they can be condensed into one sentence. When telling stories about people you barely know, have met once, or invented—refer to them as your “friends.” Buy a round of shots. Buy two rounds of shots.
Memorize jokes. Nod your head, but not too vigorously. Keep your mouth open and slightly smiling. Are you chewing gum? Keep your mouth closed, avoid smacking sounds. Slouch artistically, not lazily. This is done by making sure your neck doesn’t follow the line of your spine. Adjusting your pants too much will make you look suspicious. Point to the left and exclaim “Oh my god,” then pull them up quickly while no one is watching. When people ask what you saw, say “I thought someone was getting robbed.”
Avoid wearing too much denim. Keep dental floss in your purse. Do not scream when bees zoom past your ear. Do not scream at the post office for no reason. Do not scream in the Arby’s drive-thru line when you realize that not only will you die alone, you’re no longer hungry.
Be open about your personal life, but do not accidentally tell the story of how you drank two bottles of wine and awoke on the kitchen floor to the smell of burning noodles on the stove. Limit your drinking to one night a week, unless you are with other people. If you notice you haven’t showered in six days or left your apartment in four, take a shower. After your shower, fall asleep for twelve hours. When people ask where you’ve been, say “Mexico.”
Do not be alarmed when your cell phone dictionary does not recognize words like “breakdown,” “clitoris,” or “antisocial.” You shouldn’t be sending text messages containing these words, anyway. Have a mental reserve of pronouns to use when you forget people’s names. None of these pronouns should include “asshole,” “jerk-off,” or “dad.” Do not write letters to the man you lost your virginity to. Do not write poetry.
Follow an attractive stranger on the street. Photograph the back of his head with your cell phone. When a group of girls are standing around you talking about their relationships, interject phrases like “I hate that,” “Oh no,” and “I know, right?” Talk about your relationship, even though you don’t have one. Say “He never calls me, I always have to call him. It’s so annoying.” Show them the photo of the back of the stranger’s head. Say “His parents are from Tibet. He thinks photographs steal little pieces of people’s souls, but he let me take this one. You know, for as much as the little things frustrate me, we really have something special.” Blush.
Know about history and politics. Read about music. Read about current events. Take notes. Memorize them. Get interested in something. Hiking. Sushi. Cubism. Exude “Take me skydiving with you,” not “Milk makes me gassy.” Do not lose focus in the presence of others—you might repeat yourself or laugh inappropriately. Carry a small, heavy rock in your pocket. Grip it firmly when you feel yourself drifting away.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”