Over the weekend, I did the party-dance: I left Shindig #1 because the two people I'd gone with were ready to take off--though I wouldn't have minded an excuse to stick around longer--and decided to swing by Throw-Down #2, even though I hadn't been planning to, because hey, it was still early. The friends who'd said they'd be there were nowhere to be found and I found myself trapped by the bar in a terribly boring conversation--with some guy who insisted on speaking exclusively in corporate-babble. ("Sure, it was something I could get on board with," he was saying. "But I felt that first I needed to build a platform for myself--and ramp up for a launch--and after that, I could go anywhere I wanted to go." What? Ostensibly, he was talking about some computer software company, but I kept picturing sailboats.) I downed my stiff club soda, got another, chugged that too, looked around, saw only Mr. Newspeak staring back at me ... and I bolted. I ran down the stairs. Then I stopped on the landing below to catch my breath and put on my jacket ... and some sexy dude who was standing there, smoking a joint,* said, "Leaving so soon? What's your hurry?" We started to chat ... and it seemed clear I'd struck gold, through sheer luck.
By why leave such things to chance? Parties wouldn't be parties without a little air of mystery; we single people are motivated to go, in part, because we're hoping to meet someone new and strange and intoxicating (possibly also intoxicated, although that is not a prerequisite). But what happens so often--at least if you're me--is that we're too shy or awkward to approach anyone new. (Though I know I'm saucy-mouthed here on the blog, in real-life, I'm often too chicken or too vain to strike up a conversation with someone who doesn't approach me first.)
I think it would be helpful to have a plan of action--a few tricks up our sleeves--that will help us not only stay at a party (or circulate out of our group of friends) but also help us to interact with more people. Sure, there's the trick of getting another drink--or going outside for a cigarette, if you feel like disobeying the Surgeon General--but that stuff can only take us so far.
So I'm going to propose a few possible alternatives that might help us hang out long enough to actually meet someone new. And please: I want to know if you guys think such things will work, or backfire; if they sound fun or silly; and I also definitely want to know if you have better ideas.
1) Do your reading beforehand--and have a lively topic of conversation prepared. That way, you can approach a small group of people with perfect confidence in one thing: You have an interesting question to ask. So, read The New Yorker, read Marie Claire, read N+1, read my blog, read Orwell's 1984 ... and then prepare yourself so that you can briefly summarize some article you read, and pose a question about it.
2) Pretend to be the bartender. How? Simple: Just get your derrierre behind the little card table with a green cloth over it upon which all the bottles and cups are standing, and ask folks what they want as they approach. As long as you're polite and clean, I'm sure the host isn't going to be bothered--even if he or she doesn't know you from Adam. And having a specific role to play will help give you purpose.
3) Pretend you need to give a friend directions to the party--and then ask the most interesting-looking person near you if he can tell you the best way to get there. Be forewarned that the guy may want to actually get on the phone with your friend. So what you might want to say is that your phone isn't getting reception, or your friend can't hear you because the party is so loud ... so you'd like him to tell you the directions so you can go outside and repeat them.
4) Spearhead a quick one-question party survey. Perhaps your question will be: "What was the most interesting experience you had this week?" Explain to whomever you confer with that you plan to ask everyone at the party, before deciding who has had the most interesting of all the interesting experiences. You might even want to use a small notebook to help yourself feel more offcial.
Lovelies: what do you think? Does this stuff sound like it might work? I'm not sure I can test it out this weekend, but I'll do it soon--and report back. Will you report back too?
-Chess: if you go for a tour, you MUST give full details. Also, maybe I can borrow your son.
-Edwinna: They are raffling off multiple firemen! But I feel like paying to get a date is probably not the best way to kick off a relationship ...
-Barbie: Maybe the hanging around outside the firehouse is a city thing? But they do it a lot here in NYC, esp. during the warm weather. I think it's basically their way of babe-watching.
-Amber: Women throwing themselves at the firemen--oh dear--why didn't occur to me before that this must be the case?
-D: Maybe I actually have someone to set you up with ...
*Am I allowed to say this online? I don't do drugs any more, but it doesn't bother me when someone smokes a little weed.