by Frank Morgan
Time for a bit of honesty here: I get most of my ideas for Modern Love from things that happen to me. I’m no crazy expert on emotions or psychology, and I’m nowhere creative enough to make up stuff like this. Usually, odd stuff happens to me and tt’s only later I decide it’d make a good article. Such is the case this week. I got into a conversation with friends and coworkers (great testing group, I know) about meeting people. Not in the sense of barroom hookups, but actual conversations. I wasn’t looking for article bait, I was looking for places to hang out. My only requirements were no bars/clubs, nothing online, no phone and no speed dating crap. I wanted actual face-to-face awkwardness. My co-workers started off with a bang: I heard truck stop restrooms, glory holes, emergency rooms, funerals, bar mitzvahs and the Olympics. In that order. Thankfully, the subject changed and we actually started talking about useful stuff. When I transcribed it, the conversation turned out to be about eight pages, so I’ll pull the main ideas. Here’s what I got.
The most popular choice was the bookstore, by quite a bit. This was a bit of a surprise for me, as I read mostly sci-fi and fantasy with a smattering of classics and other fiction. I spend most of my time in the deepest darkest nerd cave of the bookstore, an already nerdy locale. I’ve become accustomed to getting in, looking at books and pointedly ignoring the other, cooler people in their sexual deviancy or investment banking aisles. Apparently, some people go to bookstores to with the intent of meeting people and don’t buy any books. Weird, right? The idea that I could be social while scratching my nerd itch was alien to me, but it kind of made sense. In bookstores, I’m surrounded by people who enjoy reading almost as much as I do. You know, the people I can never find in bars. And all of you that go to bookstores for their DVD section, not only do you kill my soul a little, you probably aren’t the target audience of this website, so we’re going to ignore you now.
After bookstores, the next best choice was some variation of house parties. This should be pretty basic, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention them. House parties, barbecues, birthdays and weddings aren’t great for the alcohol (though it helps). They’re not great for the celebration and food, although that helps too. They’re great because of friends. In my experience, friends are the best ways to meet people, period. If you don’t have friends, make some. It’s not hard, just to talk to people. Even Dahmer and Stalin had friends, and they were way worse than you’ll ever be. For you math people, think of it like this: your circle of friends share interests, humor, etc. with you. Your friends’ circles of friends share interests, humor, etc. with them. Put them all together for that Venn diagram effect of overlapping circles, hopefully with you in the middle of a bunch of people who share interests, humor, even that coveted et cetera. Now add all that flawed quasi-math to a barbecue? Good food, drinks and people who almost automatically have stuff in common? It’s pretty hard to mess that up.
The last two were the DMV and the airport, and I found to be pretty successful in a weird way. Have you ever watched a person wait all the way through that behavioral experiment of a DMV line just to get told by a snotty receptionist that his signature wasn’t cursive and he’s gotta wait in line all over again? Or something equally inane that results in six more hours in that God-forsaken place? Nest time something like that happens, look around you. You’ll see total strangers making conversation about how much the DMV sucks, the last time they were there, or some other “screw this place” story. Same thing with the airport. Delay a flight fifteen minutes, not much happens. Delay a flight three hours, passengers start talking. Five hours, they’re on a first name basis. Any longer, they’re damn near naming kids after each other. Shared misery unites people. Usually against the bringer of the misery, but hey, united’s united.
So what did I take from this, besides ignoring most of what friends tell me? The best thing to do is to get out there. As cool as your house/apartment/room is, you’re not going to meet anybody until you leave it. Fun things are great ways to meet people, terrible things are great ways to meet people, there doesn’t seem to be a wrong way of meeting people. Even drunken hookups occasionally end in marriage (but don’t bet on it). So just get out there and do stuff. Go wait in line somewhere. Go to a concert, join a cult, start a riot. They’ve all worked for someone, you just gotta find what works for you. Now if you’ll pardon me, I gotta to go buy some books.
Generously donated by Frank “Share that Misery” Morgan.