So you were able to strike up a semi-decent conversation with the person sitting next to you in the first week of semester, no sweat! You even managed to keep your cool when this relative stranger introduced you to the hippie roommate who makes her own chickpea salads and the lanky guy who wears the most brilliantly emblazoned jacket known to mankind since Joseph’s coat of many colours. Acing this social butterfly thing. But every now and again you will be asked to make an appearance at a place that is somewhere outside your Radius of Comfort and Security and you’ll wind up standing in a room full of people you know nothing about. You know you’re there because you were invited, but beyond that, everything you ‘know’ becomes a little hazy. How do you navigate the social realm once the group has exceeded, say, four or five people?
Let me just say, I am not a pro at this stuff (a truth that will become evident after reading a little further). Far from it. Far far far. Like, interplanetary distances away from being The Person to Ask about this stuff. BUT I WROTE THESE TIPS FOR YOU ANYWAY! BEHOLD:
Keep something in your hands. A glass, for example. This will give you something to fidget with (low-key fidgeting, hopefully) and prevent you from thinking that inevitable question that always comes to mind when you don’t know what to do with your upper-limbs: What’s the point of these stumpy offshoots we call “arms,” anyway, that only get in the way and feel awkward at a time like this?
That being said… Keep one hand free. At all times. You never know when you may be at a cocktail party and the Founder of an Important Charity wants to introduce himself to you and shake your hand. If you’re holding a fancy fish-bowl of soda water in one hand and clutching your mobile in the other, it could take you an embarrassingly long 20-something seconds before your brain actually connects with your hands and sends the message to FUMBLE ALL THE JUNK TO ONE SIDE while the people around you just WATCH IN HORROR AND/OR PITY.
Take some people you know, if you can. At said cocktail event, it was my mum and my sister, chatting like we hadn’t been sitting in our car discussing the same topics (dinner; next week’s dinner) for an hour and a half before we got there.
Talk to someone who needs a friend. Or even the caterer, who doesn’t need a friend per se, but would surely APPRECIATE your telling them about the poppy seeds from their appetizers getting stuck in your front teeth for a while, non? It should probably be the cute drink boy (“He said sparkling, not darling… Right?”). Yeah…I fail to take my own advice here.
If all else fails, just eat all the free food. If your mouth is full you can’t embarrass yourself by saying something stupid. You may, unfortunately, be let down by the disturbing yet admittedly zealous fashion in which you shove your first-ever aranchini ball into your face and the resulting expression of discovery and delight that transforms your visage. Not everyone loves food with as much passion and unwavering affection as you do.