Sunday, January 10, 2010

The First Understanding

Quote: "Merry have we met, and merry have we been; Merry let us part, and merry meet again." -Half of an Old English Rhyme

Actual Quote from Tonight: "You're just trying to broaden your whore-izons."

Had a lazy morning that mostly consisted of anticipating the coming evening. Had lunch with the fam which consisted of steak, cous cous, and corn. VERY good, with compliments to my parents for cooking it. Watched Ricky Gervais stand-up, and a performance of the Flight of the Conchords before they were THE Flight of the Conchords. I was actually able to follow them a tiny bit on the guitar, which was gratifying. Just for a little while, though. I'm a novice on my best day.

The evening was going to consist of a game night with a friend I knew, and they're group of friends, which I did not know. Catchphrase and Cranium were the weapons of choice (though Cranium was quietly pushed aside for Apple To Apples). Now, I try my best not to be an uncomfortable dork when I interact with a group of strangers, but I do get DEEPLY self conscious in the first hour or so. I look stupid. Everything I say sounds stupid. I SMELL stupid. It's a whole thing, mostly I don't feel cool at all. I don't like it, but that's how I get. I mostly try to keep it at bay, and be as personable as possible. My most important ritual is the Test Jokes.

No, there is no particular line-up of Test Jokes, just the act of trying to be funny to complete strangers. There's an entire process, folks. It can make or break a first understanding. No, not the first impression. The first impression is purely made up of physical, gut reaction. The only thing I could do about that is showering and smiling. But the first UNDERSTANDING... now that's a whole different banana. Its the feeling you get about someone after you've hung out with them for over an hour. Your impression is whether or not they are good company. Your understanding is what kind of good company they are. So, for example, you would understand how they would be in a particular setting. Say, a game night. I wanted to come off as funny, but would settle for humorous. I wanted to come off as a good listener, but would settle for aware of others. And so on, and so forth. I wanted to come off as nice, but would settle for tolerable.

That's where the Test Jokes come in. Depending on the joke, I could come off as dirty or intelligent or dry or crude or any hundred other adjectives. My favorite is observational with a twist of self-deprecating. (Damn, sounds like a drink or something). I always keep story-telling for some other date, cuz I don't want to be long-winded. If people want to know more about you, it will probably come up on its own. I brought some snacks and drinks, which I promptly made fun of. Does all of this sound planned? Only cuz I'm looking at it with hindsight.

That's the magic of joking around. It reveals other people. Who laughs at what. Who responds with similar humor. How people respond is also some of the funnest part of interacting. Some will respond by chuckling and nodding their head. Some will laugh. And some you get a special moment with, as you get them to play along with you with some follow-up joke to compliement yours. Social interaction is a dance, folks. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Its a dance, and I don't know what music is playing, or if I'm even dressed correctly for the occassion half the time. But that's the thing about dancing. Trying is half the fun, and half he respect. Good or bad.

So the Test Jokes were going over fairly well, and I was getting a feel for the group. She liked goofy and dark. He liked self-deprecating and dry. She liked measured and droll. He liked geeky and observational. She liked risque and sharp. And finally, she liked tongue-in-cheek and forward.

And now, the next question would be for me "Nate, why do you think so f**king hard about this?" I do this, because it keeps my brain occupied away from my head. Otherwise, I would stop interacting with them, and get quiet and broody. And they didn't deserve to deal with silent, emo Nate.

Besides, I like observing everything around me. Makes me feel cool. And every little bit helps.


No comments: