Today is the day before Christmas, and while I know it’s highly irregular for people to work or read blogs or do anything, aside from working in media, the military, retail or the service industry, I thought to myself: what if some child out there asked for a new BLAG post for Christmas?
Well, kid: here it is. Enjoy it now, because you’ll get bored after playing with it for a few days. In fact, don’t bother reading the rest; just play with this virtual bubble wrap instead.
And while you’re not reading this, enjoy the holiday while you still can. Before you know it, people will expect results. “What are your plans for the next five years? Oh, you don’t really have any? OK, well tell me about the country you just visited. You didn’t go anywhere? Oh, right, because it’s expensive. Yeah, I guess things are expensive for losers.”
It’s possible I read a little too far into these kinds of conversations, but my point is this: you need to prepare a story. Treat every intermittent social interaction as being questioned at the police station for a murder that you did commit. You have got to get your story straight ahead of time, or else you’ll fold under pressure, or give way too much genuine information about yourself.
“Might this involve lying?” Yes! It might! Don’t trouble yourself over the ethics of lying to social acquaintances and distant family, however. The first thing you need to understand is that, in this context, conversation is a lot like radio. It’s all about filling dead air, and there is a lot of that going around during the sober parts of Christmas time!
The ends justify the means. This is a rare case in which you lying about yourself spices things up, fills that dead air, and makes everybody happy. So, conjure up a good story. You’ve been offered all sorts of job opportunities, but you’ve been getting so much praise at your current job that you’re just not sure. No job? Then you’ve been involved in all sorts of “projects.” You think people won’t be impressed, but they’ll act like it because they don’t really care either way. They’re just looking for a stimulus-response-stimulus dynamic to fill their time until they drive home.
In a relationship? Talk about how great it is (but only enough for a status update — most people hate this stuff unless it accompanies important news, like a marriage or a baby. Just being in love is only news to you)! Single? Pretend you’ve been tearing it up on a bunch of dates! If you’re a guy, older men will want to live vicariously through you and draft lecherous stories to project upon you. All you have to do is smile and say something like “Heh, oh, I don’t know” and then maybe wink. They’re eager enough to lap it up no matter how unconvincing your tacit lies may be!
Side note on lying: A good lie is like a plant — you must grow it carefully, from a seed of truth. As it grows, branch by branch, leaf by leaf, all of these parts must remain connected to the stem and the root of truth hidden below the surface. It’s also like an imaginary plant that you have to trick yourself into believing in, so that you will sound convincing.
Are you hirsute and into playing the “long game”? Grow a beard this time and shave next time. Not only will this create sets of “you have a beard now!” and “you don’t have a beard anymore!” conversations, respectively, but it will also give many the perception of personal improvement. This falls under the general “bring a prop” category. A woman might try an adventurously short haircut.
If all else fails, just show dog photos until you and everyone else is drunk. It’s Christmas, so that’ll take about 20-40 minutes, depending on how poorly the rest of them have prepared. Most people are more interested in dogs, anyway.