Not meeting new people is something I am becoming increasingly passionate about. There’s a multitude of reasons, though mostly it’s to do with the inevitable “So.. what do you like to do?” conversation bomb being dropped by a stranger who clearly has nothing better to say. It’s a battle, countering such a line of inquiry, but I’m prepared. I suggest you be too. In the interest of helping my fellow man (but hopefully never meeting him) below are a few examples of how to tackle such an approach. We’ll start with my favourite, The Rant:
Stranger: Sooo.. what do you like to do?
Me, with an uncomfortable amount of eye contact: I’m glad you asked. Fish and chips. Large. 4 calamari rings. None of this gourmet fish and chips bullshit either. No rosemary or sweet potato or courgettes or whatever the hell else they put with it these days. I was once conned into getting gourmet fish and chips at a fish and chip “restaurant” – I say conned as there was definite deception involved. Call me naive, but what restaurant sells Chiko rolls? Anyway, as I suspected might occur when I saw the staff wearing hair nets, they put cracked pepper on my fish. Look, if we were supposed to have pepper on our fish the ocean wouldn’t be salty, it’d be peppery. It’s called science. Anyway, no gourmet. I like my fish the way it should be: rock hard and so greasy that when I bite into one end, oil shoots out the other end and burns me on my upper thigh because, of course, I’m eating it on the floor in my underwear. Now, Coca Cola, 1 litre. Glass of ice. Preferably about half full of ice though normally with just a few shards tinkering around the bottom because someone has obviously superglued the damn ice into the damn tray. Speaking of which, next time you really want to annoy someone who is having an afternoon nap, forget about playing music or talking loudly in that annoying voice of yours. Grab an ice cube tray out of the freezer and start bashing it against the bench, because you know that the first thing that crosses your mind whenever someone does that is OH MY GOD THIS IS NEVER GOING TO END.
If all goes to plan they’ll have their back turned before I even get to the bit about the Chiko roll. It doesn’t matter. As long as they see me do quotation marks with my fingers when I say “restaurant” I’ll be satisfied.
Another tactic is to say something we’ll call a “closer” which, in it’s purest form, is to say something that will make the other person stop.
Injecting a closer into a drab conversation involves, when asked what you like to do, something along the lines of “Er.. I have sex with men” (if you’re a man, obviously) or “Tennis”, if you’d rather keep it gender non-specific and wish to convince the person that you’re too boring to talk to.
My personal favourite – “Don’t you think that pedophiles are, y’know, kinda sexy?” – is by far the most superior closer due to both it’s versatility and it’s ability to impose an awkwardness that’s near impossible overcome. It can be thrown into conversation at any point and, regardless of what the person was talking about beforehand, you can be fairly sure they won’t remember afterwards. Plus, pedophiles ARE kind of sexy.
Dammit, sorry, I just closed you. Be warned: this closing business can be habit forming.
The final example of a closer is to simply say something monosyllabic to the person, a tactic librarians and waitstaff have been using for eons . This closer has a down side as it usually requires a follow up that needs to be slightly aggressive. For Example:
Stranger: Sooo.. what do you like to do?
Me: DIDN’T I JUST TELL YOU TO STOP?
I personally don’t approve of this one as on the rare occasion you actually encounter a fellow “closer” it can go on for quite a bit, as you are both continually closing each other. It’s happened to me a few times and let’s just say that after a couple of hours I felt like I was stuck in an episode of Twin Peaks.
Right. Now you’ve learnt some tips, stand in battle with me. Let the not-meeting begin.