Awkward Social Functions and YOU!
As much as many of us would rather hole up in the familiarity, safety and solitude of our Neohomes, sometimes we must step out and interact with other Neopians in social functions, like parties, banquets, swanky business meetings, not-so-swanky and somewhat boring business meetings, sales pitches, subpar talent shows, and recognition ceremonies for folks you vaguely know, for some reason or other. But not all such functions are made equal, which means not all of them are fun and smooth sailing, especially when they have absolutely nothing to do with sailing. Sure, you can have good food, friendly company, excellent music, the best venue Neopoints can buy…but sometimes, not even those are enough to keep a social function from becoming – gasp – an awkward social function.
How do you know it just took a turn for the awkward? Well, the festivities and fun suddenly grind to a halt in your mind, and there is that foreboding feeling of wanting to be anywhere else, especially your own home where you do not have to put up with any awkwardness whatsoever. This turn for the awkward can be caused by any of a myriad of things, but luckily, there are ways to get around said things without having to quietly sneak out the back door.
But I’m not stopping you from actually sneaking out the back door if that’s what you really want.
Sometimes it’s your wardrobe that’s at fault – a loose button flying off your jacket and into someone’s punch glass, or a skirt snagging onto a sword attached to a marble statue of Jeran in the hallway. Sometimes it’s another party’s wardrobe, like when said party curses their belt for not properly holding their pants up. And other times, it’s both your wardrobes when you wind up matching with someone you never really wanted to match with in the first place. What is this, a twinning convention? I thought that wasn’t until the Month of Swimming!
If you really didn’t come to this party to find your long-lost twin, try to do something with your outfit that will make it different. Roll up your sleeves, take that jacket off and carry it over your shoulder like a casual dandy, or mess around with your collar. Put it up or down as the circumstances dictate. Only in the most desperate of times are you to resort to purposely spilling food or drink on your outfit just to stand out; you don’t want a laundry bill or unwanted attention on top of your wardrobe malfunction, do you?
For other wardrobe mishaps, resourcefulness is key. A tear or a missing button can easily be covered up, and if you don’t draw attention to it, chances are, no one will care either unless you are in a Nitpicking Convention. Food stains (which were not intentionally done to escape becoming someone’s surprise twin) may be a bit harder to explain, but it happens to the best of us. Just hope that no one from the Neopian Times is looking around for a different angle for their story, lest you become that angle.
What if it was someone else’s problem? Thank Fyora it wasn’t you. Not your problem. Still, helping a fellow guest might give you extra brownie points in everyone else’s eyes.
When all else fails, it is time to befriend the host (if you haven’t) and request some backup in salvaging your outfit. Surely the host has also prepared for these kinds of contingencies, right? Right?
Surprise, It’s a Rivalry!
It’s not pleasant to discover that you are now breathing the same air as your classmate from university who turns everything, including how quickly one takes a bathroom break, into a competition, or your neighbour who shares the same hobbies as you do but somehow does them much better and likes to give you gentle reminders about it.
The solution to this problem is simple – avoid them. Avoid your rival at all costs. Stick to your friends, and if you don’t have any yet, now is a very good time to make new ones. Not sure how to make new ones? Talk about something. Anything. The weather, the Old Rotten Right Boot you caught from the Fishing Vortex, the Neopoints you lost betting on Food Club, that really expensive stamp you can’t find no matter where you turn in the Trading Post…scratch that, talk about anything except your rival. They might hear you and make things even more awkward. You could try to talk about your rival in the bathroom if the sight of them is enough to work up a mood, but why would you even want to talk in the bathroom about anything?
Even if your rival does not make any efforts to avoid you, avoid them anyway. Do not engage. Do not give them any fodder. What if they are looking to bury the hatchet? Oh, please. They’re doing it in the middle of a party where everyone can see and give your rival their full attention. It’s clearly an act for attention or a better public image. Do not be fooled unless you have a foolproof way of not being fooled foolishly by your fool rival.
Alternately, procure a handy dandy ray gun. A peashooter would work in a pinch, too. Just aim for the eyes or the nose.
Grade A Boredom
Parties are, by nature, not supposed to be boring, and yet, a number manage to astound and amaze us by being incomprehensibly yawn-inducing. They are not to be confused with Grey Day celebrations, which are sad and grey and often rainy, but certainly not boring. I think.
This one is an easy fix. Get everyone else to play a game. A card game, an eating contest, a pillow fight with the living room cushions, or even NeoQuest if one of the guests just happens to have a board lying around. Alternately, start a conversation about something crazy like the possibility of someone reviving Xandra, or any one of the conspiracy theories about Meepits. I don’t guarantee that the conversation will go somewhere, but it will definitely shake things up.
If the other guests are not receptive to any attempts to liven up the party and prefer to live in Boredom City, please jump straight to the I Really Wish I Weren’t Here Right Now! section. Or stomp away in a huff because everyone is probably too boring to care. Your dramatic exit might just be exactly what the party needs to spice it up.
Conversations are fickle creatures. One minute they are behaving themselves, and the next minute, they run wild and go sideways, and somehow you can’t change the topic to something that is less sideways. Why are they suddenly talking about that one time you went to class in your pyjamas, or that time you stubbed your toe during a game of Cheeseroller and wound up rolling alongside your cheese? On the flip side, this almost certainly guarantees that your conversation will be anything but boring!
But I’m sure embarrassment and the potential to scar other conversationalists for life is a very steep price to pay for the absence of boredom.
You may have to play dirty for this one. When your embarrassing stories are laid bare for everyone to hear, throw others’ equally humiliating life experiences into the mix so you’re even. If you know nothing juicy about your guests, try to change the topic to something everyone really loves or is all the rage. Maybe theorize on who will win the next battle for the Obelisk. Anything, just to get the conversation back on track.
I Really Wish I Weren’t Here Right Now!
In extreme cases, the party is going well – perhaps better than expected. There are no wardrobe malfunctions, no surprise rivals, no stilted conversations, and no overarching ennui. Nevertheless, it is possible to still feel awkward in the middle of the entire thing and want to run like a Puppyblew on the trail of a flying peanut. Normally, the best course of action is to find the least awkward position in the party – in the middle of good friends, or lurking near the food table if talking to others just isn’t your thing – but if there’s nowhere else to hide, then there’s no other choice.
Have a handy and plausible alibi ready so you can run for your Neohome. Sudden family emergency, your roommate came down with a case of Blurred Vision and can’t navigate the place without a second pair of eyes, or Bloaty Belly from the big beautiful banquet. It’s best to make one up and rehearse it before you leave for your social function so it sounds convincing. Your alibi must not be too far-fetched or crazy, but it must also be bad enough for your party host to let you leave.
But what if your alibi doesn’t work, or you leave home without it?
That’s simple. Start a food fight. What? You heard me. Try to start it without letting everyone else know that you were the one who started it, then leave quietly in the middle of all the carnage. A food fight is the perfect cover; everyone will be too busy either getting in on the action or staying out of range. Of course, you will be placing your outfit in mortal danger, but life is full of risks. It will be worth it if you can get away anyway.
And there you have it. You don’t have to suffer in an awkward social function. For every problem, there is a solution, and for every problem that doesn’t seem to have a solution, there is always the handy dandy alibi…or the food fight.
By the way, I take no responsibility for any and all consequences, embarrassment, humiliation, shame or unwanted Neopian Times coverage that may result from any of these pointers. The reader assumes all responsibility and liability for their actions related to this article, et cetera, et cetera. But really, it will be worth it if you can escape an awkward social function.