Sartre must have hated cocktail parties. Because he defined Hell as “other people.” Of course, he implied “other people at cocktail parties.” I hate to go to these things, because one is required to converse with complete strangers about random and useless topics like the weather. Add to this the fact that I am actually an introvert, my tweets and Facebook posts notwithstanding–the prospect of standing around with a cocktail napkin with a shrimp on it and a glass of something alcoholic is like death to me.

So I read with interest an online article that gives some rules for making conversation. So that I won’t be accused of plagiarism, I have modified a few of them. But you will get the gist.

Wear a conversation starter. Of course, this makes sense! What a great idea. All you have to do is put on green lipstick. And people will flock to you with all kinds of great discussion openers like, “What the hell is that on your lips?” or “Are you out of your mind?” Now, the author of the actual advice recommended colorful ties. But if you are a woman, you probably won’t have many of those. Plus, a chartreuse tie might not be easy to find. But your corner drugstore has green lipstick, because I checked. I always do good blog research.

Ask an interesting question. If only I knew how to do this. Most people don’t. This is why we are stuck with inane questions like “Hot, isn’t it?” or “How about them Yankees?” So I have thought long and hard and come up with a few better queries: “Do you use deodorant?” I also like “Have you ever kissed your father on the lips?” Another sure fire one would be “Do you use the F-word in public, or just at home?”

Tell a little anecdote.  Now, I have to take exception to this one. Because, really, how many anecdotes are actually little? Most of them involve getting up in the morning, deciding what to wear, packing your lunch (bologna or peanut butter?), getting aced out of that parking spot at work, and having a grouchy boss, and on and on until the anecdote finally ends with a migraine. The listener’s.

Having a big smile on your face will instantly attract people to you and foster conversation. Right? Yes. It will attract other weirdos, who will feel free to tell you their favorite anecdotes about their chronic eczema or their opinions about bikini waxing or oral sex. So the smile thing? Nix it.

Give a compliment. In my opinion, this is difficult to do with a complete stranger. But in these cases, I guess you have to go with the superficial, like “Oh, I just love your nose. Is it the original, or a new one?” Or “You know, that pimple on your forehead is not really that noticeable.”

So all of this “incidental conversation” is really futile, isn’t it? What does it lead to? Lifelong friendships? No. Eureka moments? No. Unexpected insights into humanity? Of course not. Cocktail hours are stupid. I have excellent advice, actually. Get dressed up. Go to the cocktail party. Get a drink at the bar, and drink it real fast. Put your glass back on the bar, and turn towards the exit.  Nod in a friendly manner at people on your way out. Or you could say “Adieu.” Sartre would approve.

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