A few handy hints for the on-the-go traveller who is far too busy (being an important, big shot man/woman-about-town, no doubt) to make time for the dreary underling, the tedious former associate, or the slightly mental, and (as you’ve just remembered) weirdly clingy ex-partner.
Step One: Stay on the Move
Maintaining momentum is the golden rule. If this is a ‘smile and wave‘ acquaintance, then it shouldn’t be a problem; however if you know that a conversation will be instigated, then there’s an important trick that I like to call the ‘spin ‘n’ grin‘. Be the first person to initiate contact, as it makes you seem genuinely interested in conversing, but instead of stopping in front of them (absolute no-no), simply walk to the side of them, turning around so that you’re still facing them, chatting, but walking away backwards. This shows that you’re in a hurry to do something that, as much as you’d love to stay and chat, can’t be put off. Keep smiling and talking until you’re roughly four steps away, and then bust out the old ‘I’m sorry, I really have to run, but it’s lovely seeing you.’
Step Two : Memory Loss
Feign amnesia; if they ask about recent events, you know nothing. What have you been up to? Bugger all. Did you get up to much on the weekend? Not a lot. How’s work? Fine. What’s new? Same old, same old. If there’s nothing to discuss, then there’s nothing they can discuss. This method is actually an expanded rendition of the ‘indifference’ tactic that gave us such gems as ‘No, I’ve not seen it. I don’t really watch TV.’, and ‘I don’t actually mind the bad weather. It’s only rain.’
Step Three: Your Imaginary Friend
Nothing takes the wind out of someone’s sails like finding out that you already know the punch line to their joke, the moral to their story, the big twist to their dramatic revelation; and this is where your all-knowing ‘friend‘ comes in handy. Sounds confusing? Simply observe:
Them: Hey, how are you? What have you been up to? I just saw this great film last night about the Cold War –
You: Oh yeah, my friend just saw that, and he told me it was good.
Them: Ah right, yeah. Well, I also went shopping and bought these great new shoes from –
You: Yeah, my friend shops there. They have some cool stuff.
Them: Yeah, they do… and they’re –
You: – cheap in regards to how good a quality their products are; yeah, that’s what he said.
Them: Oh, right. Okay. Well anyway, it’s been good to catch up. Things haven’t been going well for me lately. I’ve actually just been diagnosed with leu-
You: -kaemia, yeah. My friend had that, so I already know all about the symptoms, treatment, prognosis, and anything else you may feel like telling me about it.
Them: … … …
Did you see that? Conversation averted (and don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be fine, probably).
Step Four: ‘Facebook Me!’
Here’s a good’un. The one positive aspect of Facebook has always been the ability to distance yourself from people under the guise of doing just the opposite. No one really cares ‘wat uve been up 2′, and, to be honest, they never will. Telling someone to ‘Facebook you‘ is a great way of saying ‘Although I’m indisposed right now, I’d love to continue this conversation at our mutual convenience on a later date‘, safe in the knowledge that there is no way in hell that they are actually going to Facebook you because it’s Facebook, and no one gives a shit about Facebook. Ten points for this one. You leave them with the impression that you want to catch up, and even though it was a cunning trick on your part to avoid talking to them, they still seem like the asshole for never getting back to you. A manipulative masterpiece.
Step Five: Point ‘n’ Run
The last resort. You’ve tried steps one to four, and your fire-eyed captor is still closing in on you, the threat of the icy claws of idle banter lingering closer and closer to your dry, quivering throat. Only one option remains. Juvenile, I know; but you can’t argue with results. If a simple ‘What’s that over there?‘ doesn’t take your fancy, I’ve learned that a terrified ‘Oh, god. Whatever you do, do not turn around!’ will work wonders; or finally, for a bit of extra fun, just stare directly over their right shoulder with a look of the most unmitigated horror that you can muster, as if the Morning Star himself has risen to Earth for the sole purpose of expressing the rage of untold millenniums of agonising damnation onto your petrified human form, and his red, dead eyes were gazing straight into your petrified peepers. Then, when your chilled combatant whisks around to behold the horrors that lie behind him, you can make your escape down a nearby alley, or dive head first into a bushy thicket.
So, dear friend; there you have it, five simple steps that mean that as you trudge down the road, eyes shielded from the glorious sunlight by staring directly down at your feet, earphones blaring to make sure that the grim reality of the universe around you can’t even hope to seep into your consciousness and brighten up your miserable day, you will be assured of absolute privacy and solitude as you go about the business of wishing you had someone to talk to, all the while firmly reminding yourself of your disdain for having to talk to someone.
About Felix O'SheaFelix is a guy who isn't actually a writer, but calls himself one when he wants to try to impress gullible people.
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