Daily Challenge: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
I like giving off the illusion that I’m incredibly cultured and knowledgeable of things in the world, when in reality, I make sure that I know how to do a few things well and rotate through them from group to group, party to party, morning to evening. So I give you a list of things I think you MUST know to give the illusion that you’re a not-idiot:
Memorize the recipe to an appetizer: The most versatile of the food groups, appetizers can double as a meal or snack, depending on the quantity and quality of the ingredients and people eating them. My go-to? Bacon wrapped dates. With only three ingredients, they’re surprisingly delicious and deceitfully simple.
Memorize a quote, or at least the idea of it: Who was it that said “Genius: the ability to prolong one’s childhood”? You’ve got me (some dead guy, I’m sure), but it’s damn funny and can strategically be slipped into most conversations. This includes politics, economics, fashion, and personal life choices.
Be able to defend a book you love, regardless of what people say about it: This also implies reading a book and knowing it enough to love it. You don’t have to memorize it, but be aware of why you hold onto it, why you read it from beginning to end, and why – at least for you – it was perfect in every way.
[ I fell in love with Mark Z. Danielewski’s “House of Leaves” the summer between junior and senior year of college. The post-modern typography and the footnotes within the footnotes on this horror/love story sometimes made my head hurt, but I believe it was oh-so-worth-it when I reached the end. Some friends of friends argue that “Ugh, Danielewski tries too hard.”
“You know what?” I shoot back, “YOU try too hard.” In most cases, this is true. ]
Tell one good short story that’ll break the ice: Everyone needs to be able to entertain or at least give someone a reason to keep talking to you. Keep it short, but long enough to have holes that people can ask about later. For example: “I used to take tango classes with this 60 year old woman in Paris who would sometimes give me a ride on her motorcycle back to the Jewish and Gay part of the city, where I would then ride a bike through a dark forest of prostitutes to the apartment of a professional organ-playing ex-pat from Ohio.”
Goodbye, awkward silence. Hello, life of the party.
Impersonate someone: Just for laughs, or at least to show that if you ever decide to leave the country, you have a second identity to go under. My personal repertoire includes Spongebob, Patrick, Gary, Squidward, and the French Narrator.
How to tip: Nothing says more about your personality than when opening your wallet and handling cash. I’m not saying that a gentleman should always pay the bill (not to worry, there’ll be more on that later), but knowing how to add that little extra shows a) you appreciate those who made your experience at so-and-so place enjoyable, and b) you care about someone who’s probably working for just about or less than minimum wage. If you haven’t I recommend at least working in hospitality; you’ll realize how much these people go through, and how much the customer isn’t aware of how much you go through. For general tipping guides, follow this.
And that’s about as far as this little diddy on advice will go. As long as you know how to do these things, I can only assume you’ll be able to function at most social gatherings and/or class reunions you regret attending.
I kind of wish I had more applicable advice than just “know a good story and how to hand out money.”