On Day 45 of doing "New Things" I ended up being invited out to eat at the Blue Grotto with eight strangers from the yoga studio I frequent. I learned eight essential tips to make your dining-with-strangers experience a positive one that makes them think you are SUPER interesting and ultimately incorporate you into the group.
1. Have an iPhone
When attending a gathering of new people who all know each other but don't know you, it's very important to have an iPhone. Everyone in my group had one and was showing off fun features. I was quite markedly out of this conversation, being that I have a two-or-more year old LG Envy. If I had that iPhone though, I would've really fit in on making a better first impressions. "What's that application to make your face fatter? I love that one!" "You can't miss that bling bling round-em-up game!!"
A critical reason for needing an iPhone, is that you can't discuss an iPhone without looking at your iPhone, and those who do not possess an iPhone cannot look at it, making you the only person not looking at your toy and waiting desperately for libations to arrive.
2. Make your Job Sound VERY exciting
Now, I enjoy my job for the fact that I get to write most every day and that I get to do personally interesting research on occasion, but this does not a conversation make. In a new group of people, you must describe your work as nothing short of FAB-yeuw-lousssss. Describe it in such a way that makes them want to know more, embellish it's importance to their respective future, and render your captive audience slightly jealous of the "greener grass" on your pasture.
3. Ask out-of-the-ordinary questions
Like, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like pate?" "Oh! You're a vegetarian, um...how 'bout grapes??" "On any ordinary day, how often do you think of going to the moon?"
Bypass anything like "How often do you come to this restaurant?" "Do you think I'm a total weirdo for coming out with you?" and such. This makes you sound boring and insecure.
After you've broken the ice by talking about the newest feature on your iPhone and successfully filled up the longer-than-normal-especially-when-you're-not-drunk time between sitting down with your new compadres and waiting for your libation, it's finally time to drink.
It's important to select a drink that does not stand out. For example, do not order a martini at a Mexican restaurant, despite its power to mainline 'cool' into your persona. You look like a jerk. In all Mexican restaurant occasions, order margaritas. My perennial favorite for non-Mexican restaurants is the house red. You look totally un-pretentious but sophisticated-ish.
Select the libations that demonstrate to your future biffles (best friends for life!) that you are exciting. Red wine makes me chatty and confident and somehow exciting. It's how I became cool during my acts of shameless self-promotion in Ohio.
And drink quickly. Ramp up your BAC as soon as possible to integrate yourself into the group.
This leads to the fifth tip.
5. Reveal Personal Information
My new friends were revealing rather personal information about themselves, which I was both happy with and scared of. I enjoy that they felt comfortable enough to bring sensitive things up, but slightly scared that I would inadvertently blurt out this information in later yoga classes.
I realized, however, that it is important in bonding with your dining buddies that you reveal equally or MORE personal info. It makes you seem approachable, interesting, and able to relate. I'm kinda sarcastic about this, but not really. Thinking it was the red wine that inspired me to try to relate to strangers.
My God, they were totally judging me, weren't they.
6. Shamelessly promote your blog
I can't help it.
After the Booze has Worn Off:
7. Plan to meet up again, even if you don't mean it.
This group meets every Friday after yoga and I had a pretty good evening, so planning to meet up was genuine. But for you, it's not good etiquette to say, "I was so terrified by this encounter and couldn't relate to you at all despite the fact I brought an iPhone for the occasion." You still must say that you had a wonderful time and that you would lurve to meet again.
8. LEAVE QUICKLY. You are less interesting than when not inebriated and will likely regret what you said earlier in the conversation, or make awkward apologies to get them to say something favorable about you, or jabber about the weather or your car or other nonsense if you linger.
...And now you know!
P.S. My dinner partners seemed to like me, and I liked them. We had great conversation and I even got a hug from the yoga teacher on the way out. We may be on the way from strangers to friends if I go out with them again. In any case, however, I apparently need to get an iPhone.