It’s been a while now since the last time you got out and about with people. There were some hiccups in the past, people weren’t too thrilled with spending time around you. Who can blame them? You have some odd habits, a strange sense of humor, and don’t even get me started about your sense of fashion.
But it’s a new day, a brand new start for you with brand new people. They don’t know anything about you, so you can be anything you want to be now. Your past is behind you and the future’s bright. You’ll be able to grab life with both hands and squeeze it for all it’s worth.
Okay, maybe that was some unfortunate phrasing, all things considered…
But it’s still the truth, this is your time to shine. All you’re going to need to do is make sure you don’t repeat some of your past mistakes. In fact, with a little bit of adjustment you may just survive the modern social scene. All you need to do is not fuck it up!
Do’s And Don’ts Of (Living) Etiquette
A lot has changed in the time since you last saw daylight. First of all, the world hasn’t seen a major plague outbreak in centuries. You can go ahead and leave behind the bird mask. Second, only a select few people wear all black and generally those aren’t the people who are going to jive with your particular kind of social skills. It’s not you, it’s them, and a little bit of you. In fact, please refer to our advice to those fellows with the only smile scarier than yours, it’ll help greatly. By following those tips and the advice we lay out here today, you too will find yourself a social butterfly.
Do: Join Group Activities
The first thing you’re going to want to do is get involved with some good old fashioned group activities. It’s not hard in today’s society to get out and about and meet new people, no matter how much others may imply it to be. In fact, public gatherings and group meetups have their own websites now. Once, finding a group that would be able to understand you required some sort of terminal illness or deep psychological issues, and we all remember how that turned out.
But today you have an opportunity to find people from all walks of life who happen to have your particular brand of crazy. Maybe you want to meet up with people fond of mythology – there are groups for that. Maybe you want to go to a place where they watch nothing but old Kaiju movies – there are groups for that. Maybe you want to learn how to dance – there are groups for that. Maybe you want to overthrow the corporate run system of consumerism by joining a club that speaks to the inner frustrations of men in their quarter and mid-life crises by invoking their primitive violent urges…
You should probably not join that one, you might have to hide again after that.
Don’t: Go To Funerals
However, if there’s anywhere that you shouldn’t go in order to meet new people it’s probably funerals. Yes, there will be a great number of people at these events and there’s a good chance, if it’s public enough, that you could even pretend you met the deceased somewhere before. Though, hell, given your lifestyle you probably did meet that person for a brief moment prior.
Come to think of it that’s probably how you heard of it.
But these are not the types of people who are there to mingle and make friends. Yes, it’s a time to bring people together and form a support group as you fondly remember the parted. But no one’s going to want to hear you giggling in the back row and trying to strike up conversations about whether or not it would be hilarious if the deceased sat up right now.
This is a vital piece of advice for you, given your condition, because people like you have made some minor mistakes in the last couple years that the rest of the world was not too fond of. Let us not forget the unfortunate trend of “Funeral Selfies” which, while not likely to have been done by you, does sound an awful lot like something you would do if you weren’t careful.
Exception: Maybe A Wake
Okay, this is totally not recommended.
If you absolutely have to, you could probably get away with your usual shenanigans at a wake. Wakes are generally more upbeat and lively and there’s usually quite a bit of drinking involved. These are more like parties than like the solemn occasion of conventional funerals. Hell, your brand of gallows humor may be exactly what the room called for in the right circumstances. You may even get to break out the old duds if the group feels welcoming enough.
Now, at a wake you’re probably going to want to know the people a little bit better than the conventional funeral. These are going to be people who are there not just to remember the deceased by comfort each other by celebrating their lives – stories will be exchanged. You’re going to want to know something about the person who died more than how they died and what their final words were, so it’s best to have known that person for quite a bit of time before you go trying to make jokes over their corpse with a beer in your hand.
Do: Try To Be Friendly
This is going to be one of the easier parts of it all. Being friendly is probably the chief responsibility of anyone trying to make friends in the world. After all, it’s in the title. But you’re going to be particularly adept at it because there’s that perfect storm of desperation and lack of boundaries which will put you right in the sweet spot.
Meeting someone on the street? Give them a compliment (note: stop at one and move on if they don’t respond in kind, this shit can get creepy). Happen to meet someone at a bar? Then strike up a conversation about their interests and be a good listener. Whenever possible, smile and nod like you’re truly interested in what they’re saying and be sure to use active listening to confirm it. Active listening is probably your best weapon here because otherwise you’re going to look like some sort of creepy tool who’s just grinning at people for the hell of it. And, frankly, that’s something you want to avoid at all costs.
To be an active listener, it’s important to reflect back to them what you’re hearing from them. Ask them questions about what they’re saying, reflect to them the sentiments they’re making, and be sure to make lots of appropriate (but well defined) eye contact. Do note that, like the constant smiling and over-abundant compliments, people will be slightly bothered if you never break eye contact, so be sure to blink.
Don’t: Laugh At Poor Times
Now, if they happen to make mention of something during the conversation that could be considered (what many would describe) as horrible – don’t laugh. If someone recently had a death in their family, lost a pet, lost their job, or were just diagnosed with cancer – don’t laugh. Some degree of “nervous laughter” is acceptable in certain cases, but you’re probably aware that you’ve got a morbid sense of humor and could come off cackling like the Joker over Batman’s bloody sidekick.
So what you’re going to want to do is try to do the opposite of whatever feels like the natural response should be. Normally I would suggest that this is a good time to think of something truly sad, but that’s not how you work. Instead, try to focus on not laughing for as long as possible. Wait, no, that usually makes things worse…
Fuck it, if anyone tells you some bad news, write off the conversation because there’s a good chance you’re not seeing that person ever again.
Exception: Can You Roll With It?
So, maybe, if you’re not willing to write it all off and are genuinely interested in the person you’re dealing with, there may be a few methods of dealing with this. Now, I’m sure you followed earlier advice to avoid dealing with people who share a common fashion sense with you, but let’s go ahead and double check because if you ignored it we’re probably good to go. Does the person you’re talking to look anything like this?
Then you may have a shot. These people may be as morbid as you are and that’s the kind of thing that can really seal the deal for you in an emergency. Generally, these types are there to be a little eccentric themselves and may even have the same sort of hangups you do. So the question is, when you started laughing, did they?
Okay, you’re in trouble, it’s time to lie. At this point you should say that you thought they were joking and that you weren’t aware they were serious. The more you play it like you had no idea, the better off you may be. They won’t always buy it, of course, but after cackling like a hyena you may have few other options at your disposal. Really, the only reason to do this is because it’s hard to start over and accepting defeat isn’t really an option at your age.
Speaking of which…
Do: Hang Out With The Appropriate Age Group
You’re no spring chicken. In fact, some would describe you as literally ancient. But so long as you’re looking good for your age (and let’s assume you do), it may help you to socialize by going to people who still have a social life to speak of. Older people, particularly those who have already had kids (or grandkids) won’t exactly be the ones eager to spend time with a complete stranger. If you’re going to want to get involved in teh world, you’re going to have to aim for the people who have all the time in the world and no major responsibilities. But this can be tricky, after all, we’ve already discussed that you can be a bit creepy at the wrong functions and it’s entirely likely that trying too hard is going to make you look even worse.
You’re going to want to know what people are into and understand where the lines will be drawn. It’s one thing to know the slang of the day, it’s another thing to try to use it when it’s clearly not natural to you. Find a nice balance between “crazy old nutjob” and “cool uncle”. It’s especially necessary to gauge the age of the group around you – avoid anything under 18 or above 40, because these are going to be your problem zones in one way or another.
For the over 40 crowd, you’re going to come off a little odd. You haven’t had a relationship in years and that generally means you’re either shiftless or hiding something. Shiftless you can probably work with because, let’s face it, you kind of are so this is something you’re going to need to deal with anyway. But the suspicion that you might be hiding something may as well be a flashing sign that they should call the cops on you. Once, it was believed that single people in their 40s were just gay. Now, being gay is something a lot of people are welcoming towards and usually people are out by the time they reach that age. So seeing as that’s the case, they’re going to suspect you tried to kill someone.
And as for the under 18 crowd…
Don’t: Hang Out With Kids
There are three primary reasons you should avoid this age-group. The first, of course, is the fact that you’ll look like a creepy stalker looking to do something twisted with the children. This is to be avoided at all costs because, once again, this is a reason to go into hiding for a few more years.
Second, there will be a clearer generation gap between you and anyone under 18 anyway. While most adults tend to settle into similar roles across generations, what with maturity bringing the desire to just get along, younger people tend to have very strict and polarized cultural norms which will prevent you from blending in. Frankly, cliques are not just crazy in younger groups, they’re the law. So you’re going to look not only slightly out of place (as per normal) but entirely out of place.
And third, as painful as this is going to sound, you’re probably not prepared to keep up with them. To put it bluntly, you’re old, even if you don’t feel it, and that means that there are just some things you are just not going to be good at. Modern dances are going to escape you, modern customs are going to be completely alien to you, and a lot of their forms of entertainment…
Well you remember how you accidentally ended up in that rock band, right?