Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: How To Infiltrate A Group Of Strangers... As Long As They Aren't Loud Chewers
This week we’re gonna to tackle two questions, because they’re both great and I’m feeling like I gotta do something to ramp back up after the lazy long weekend I just had. Is it possible to be hungover from doing… nothing? Like, not a damn thing? I didn’t even BBQ anything, though I did make some tasty carnitas tacos so I suppose that’s an accomplishment.
[Reminder: you can send us questions — even on holiday weekends! Just email us at [email protected] and I’ll take a look. Possibly while making and eating tacos. But honestly, would you even want the advice of someone who wasn’t actively consuming a taco anyway? Please.]
First up is a neat variation on a topic we’ve covered in the past…
I’ve been invited by a new friend to a big gay fundraising dance party where everyone has to wear a dress. I’m gay, he’s gay. We are just friends. He invited me to join his group of friends to go to this party. It’s been years since I did something like this. I’m just curious if anyone has any tips or tricks for hanging out with a new group of people who already all know each other. I know very little about any of them. PS What if this is a “Dogfight” situation and I’m Lili Taylor?
So this isn’t quite the “how to make new friends” question we’ve answered previously, but I think it’s in the same vein. Maybe you don’t want to befriend all of these strangers for the long haul, but you certainly don’t want to be the odd one out at this party. So here’s a handy Pajiba primer on how to fit in, compiled by a “group of socially inept nutbars” (TK’s words, not mine — personally, I’m a socially adept nutbar, which is why I’m talking to YOU strangers). Oh wait, where were we? Right — tips!
— Drink fast, get a buzz on, be charming, leave early. If you don’t drink, skip straight to the “be charming” part.
— The trick to being charming? Ask lots of questions. And an easy first question is, “So, how did you meet my friend?” — but you can also look up other ice-breaker style questions and then just find a way to pass them off as natural/genuine. Just remember to pay enough attention to ask the all-important follow up questions, because people fucking love to talk about themselves. Offering up compliments is another charm tactic, and if you wanna achieve a pro-level of charm you can COMBINE questions with compliments (a prime example, courtesy of Genevieve: “I love your purse, where’d you get it?”).
— And just to circle back: never underestimate the power of leaving early, because nothing turns people off more than a new person overstaying their welcome. So maybe you can establish early on that you have something else to do, and then use that as an excuse to leave before things get uncomfortable (or leave when you realize they already ARE uncomfortable, depending on whether these friends of your friend are assholes). Also, playing it cool like that means that you may leave them wanting more, so if you hang out with this group again you’ll already have greased the wheel. Also? Leaving early is just great, because nothing is as fun as being home. But that could just be me.
— Read the room. If this group of friends has their own dynamic, don’t force your way in. Just sit back, observe, and wait for opportunities to contribute when you have something to truly add. Don’t try to pull focus or monopolize unless they are offering you the spotlight.
— Emily Chambers also had some advice, which I’m gonna sum up as “ignore the friends and just ingratiate yourself with the bartenders and waitstaff.” Yes, that goes back to the getting buzzed part, but honestly? Making friends with bartenders is almost always the best advice in any situation.
— I hadn’t seen Dogfight so I googled it and, uh… no, I don’t think you’re facing that. I don’t think ANYONE, EVER, has faced that. That’s some fucked up shit. And if it turns out that this is, indeed, a Dogfight scenario? Well, you’ll be glad you sucked up to the waitstaff because you can get them to spit in these assholes’ food or something.
In summary: Always Be Lili Taylor.
And just for funsies, here’s a question we received from an individual who is DEFINITELY NOT listed on our own Staff page. Nope. No idea who this is.
I share an office space with several other people. They’re all the best. But one person is a loud eater. Like chewy, chomping, slappy sloppy gum smacking loud. I don’t get grossed out by … well, it used to be that I don’t get grossed out by anything. But turns out there is indeed something that grosses me out. And man alive, when I hear her eating, Jesus Christ, it puts my blood a boilin’.
And yes, I have headphones. When she starts chowing, I grab my noise-canceling headphones and get the music going. But her chewing is at some sort of special frequency that bleeds right through.
I’m trying to avoid committing murder her. So a simple question, really. How do you politely get someone to chew with their fucking mouth quietly closed like a normal god damned member of civilized society?
Anonymous Communal Office Person
P.S. You’re all the best. Except for TK. And that Chambers broad.
Dear Anonymous person that I totally don’t know,
A person who chews so loudly not even noise-cancelling headphones can drown out the sound of her noshing is basically the textbook definition of “monster” (I assume — it’s not like I own any textbooks), so in this case, I think the answer is to treat her like a fucking monster. Which means, of course: Fire. Bear Traps. Pitch forks. Angry Mobs. Possible murder.
Ok, so like, maybe SOME of that is an exaggeration, but whipping up a mob might not be a bad idea. Like, are you the only colleague in earshot? If you have other co-workers who are similarly bothered, can you form a coalition to tackle the problem? Sure, you could just talk to her, but in cases like this I feel like being passive aggressive is best. Start loudly chewing whenever she stops. Or start asking what that sound is whenever she starts chewing, but pretend you don’t realize that it IS chewing. Like, ask if a trash compactor is having a malfunction nearby or something.
And if nothing else, just remember: It’s hard to smack your lips if you’re screaming in pain.
But in the meantime, please send us your office address as it sounds like TK would like to mail this lady some gum and crackers.
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