The cleverest trick for making small talk bearable is not really participating it—ask your torturer about himself, and you won't have to speak again for ages, because most people don't understand the courtesy of "How about you?" However, if you find yourself in the mood to #disrupt, here are five twists on the standard cocktail-party pleasantries.
1. Old: "Hi! How are you?"
New: "Would giraffes wear ties at the tops or bottoms of their necks?"
Bold. Elegant. Just controversial enough to lead into a spirited debate about animal biology and the similar conundrum involving a dog and trousers.
2. Old: "So what do you do?"
New: "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Not just in being a trash person but also in believing in the possibility of *yourself* to float wherever the wind takes you?"
Contemplative. Wryly humorous. Existential. Opens the door for your partner in conversation to unload his or her own millennial crises.
3. Old: "Where are you from?"
New: "Would you rather be brought up in wildest Borneo then spend the last five years of your life in Brooklyn or be brought up in Brooklyn then spend the last five years of your life in wildest Borneo?"
Borneo could be fun. Plus then you would get to know the other person's thoughts on gentrification, and doesn't everybody have Deep Musings on that?
4. Old: "What do you do for fun?"
New: "Which is the best meme account?"
So cool. (You know what memes are.) So dangerous. (You could start, like, a meme duel, and you know what happened to the last guy who got himself in a meme duel.)
5. Old: "Nice to meet you."
New: "Want to come to my happening next week? It's in this cool old molasses factory that smells like rum and centuries of systematic oppression brought on by triangular trading. They checked it for rodents so you won't get the plague, probably."
And that's how it's done. #mostinterestingguestintheworld