A couple weekends ago a friend of mine came to New York City.
While I hung out with him all the time when we lived in Virginia, I had no desire to see him here. Not because I didn’t like him, but because I’d just moved to town and that weekend was the first free one I had in over a month. The last thing I wanted to do was obligingly trek up to Northern Manhattan or wherever the fuck he was to grab two beers while “catching up.”
I told him as such, and he understood.
However, it’s rare interactions like that are so cut and dry. More often than not, when people come to town, you can’t simply tell them to “Fuck off,” even though hanging out with them would be a more cumbersome and involved task than jamming a screwdriver deep into your thigh and calling your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options. Feelings would be hurt. Instead, you are left trying to evade and avoid these people, without coming across even slightly as trying to do those precise actions. It’s a tight rope to walk. But one we all need occasionally to do. That’s why I have these tips.
1. Always (ALWAYS) have plans in the back of your mind: You never know when someone is going to visit, be it for work, or to see a relative or because they are just passing through. But it is almost always preceded by a lengthy heads up. Except that doesn’t mean you have time to prepare to shake them. No, the moment they call, giddy, to say “Hey, I’ll be in your city,” your mind needs to start working. What are you doing that weekend that could explicitly preclude them? Think of hard to get reservations at nice restaurants. Parents being around. Day hikes way outside the city limits. These things don’t need to actually occur, you just need to be ready to lie.
“Shoot! The 26th? Yea, we’re going whitewater rafting that day.”
Then apologize profusely, even though you have nothing to be sorry for. It makes it seem like you actually wanted to meet up.
2. Which is why you give an opening: After you do say you are sorry about the conflicts, follow it immediately with “But… maybe we can try to do a drink or something?” Always throw the possibility out there. Otherwise, your plans to avoid them later become obvious.
3. Then, vacillate a lot: The weekend of, or a day before, your uninvited guess will try to lock you into plans. They are in town and have no one to hang with and want company. They will toss out ideas like “Lunch” or “Happy Hour.” Never answer directly. Use words like “Possibly” or “Maybe.” It gives the faintest of inklings that you are interested while conveying your tepidness toward meeting up. Perhaps they’ll get the picture. They won’t.
4. Be intentionally vague: Your friend is now in town and is texting you, asking where you are at. Don’t ever give a precise location. That way you’ll avoid the dreaded “Cool, I’ll be right by.” Name the state you are in. That is the minimum amount of information required to give by law.
“Where you at?”
5. Pretend to be drunk: This works for two reasons. One, it’s easier for drunk people to be incoherent messes, incapable of giving directions from Point A to Point B, let alone organizing an actual meet up. Two, no one wants to go out of their way to hang out with someone so obviously intoxicated that being around them would be a terrible experience. How many times have you bailed on your shitfaced friends because they would be awful to be with?
“Fuck it,” you say.
6. If all else fails…: Pretend your phone died. This is a last resort, because ignoring text after text as though you weren’t receiving them is as callous an act as a human can commit. And what if they call? So if you are going to try that maneuver, you need to full commit. Put the phone in Airplane Mode and leave it at the house. It’s drastic, but remember how little you wanted to see this person to begin with. Then, the next morning, let them know what happened. Everyone understands that situation. It is the only fool-proof way to exonerate yourself from blame. So try that.