Yes, we’ve all done it. More than once. I did it twice in just 24 hours, prompting me to write about it. Where you see that person, but go to extreme lengths to pretend they aren’t there.
Last night at 11, and this morning around 8ish, I saw people I knew on the subway. Now, I use the term ‘knew’ quite loosely, cuz that’s pretty much as far as the relationship goes. Two of them, I probably can’t even name (maybe it has something to do with their names being 18 letters long, while only containing one vowel, but that’s beside the point), and the other I simply don’t care about either way.
Now, it seems that most people I know fall into this category. The ‘I know you, but really couldn’t care less about your existence, let alone your thoughts on the latest happenings with the local sports team, or what grade your niece/nephew is in’ category.
I have a serious contempt towards small talk. It’s actually gotten me in trouble more times than I can count. I’ve been informed that my attitude is not welcome in a certain establishment, I’ve been told I make terrible first impressions, I’ve been told I wasn’t the first choice for hiring because I come off as cold, the boyfriend’s dad actually refused to let me into his house for a short while, because I refused to play the ‘Hiiiiiiiiiii!’ game every time I saw him, no matter if this was 63 times in an hour. This would be easy enough to change all of this, no? Just say hello, Talea; comment on the weather; pretend to smile when people talk about the new kind of trail mix they found at the grocery store this weekend, how hard is that?? It’s TOO HARD. I simply CANNOT do it. It makes me want to punch people in the face, or inflict violence upon myself with rusty implements. I seem to have been overlooked when they were handing out the ‘care about others mundane lives’ gene. Ha, the irony is, I write a blog about my own mundane life and expect others to read it with religious regularity. Oh well. I’ve never claimed I wasn’t a hypocrite.
What the hell was I talking about? Sorry, it’s just that my blind hatred for small talk runs so very deep I just get worked up a bit.
So anywho…..the art of pretending to not see somebody that you know is there is actually fairly tricky. There are several things to consider when trying to make yourself appear invisible to the other person, so that they don’t come up and bore you to tears with their stupid conversations.
1) To pull off this tricky social anti-interaction, try to always leave the house with some sort of emergy diversion feature. This could be a book, your iPod, your dayplanner, a bottle of nail polish, a snack, unfinished knitting, a stack of envelopes that need to be paired up with a stack of stamps……..the possibilities are truly endless. Try to always have ‘busy work’ on your person. This will make it much easier to fool the other person into thinking that you don’t see them. Once you see them, immediately launch into full blown occupied mode. Read your book, close your eyes and sway to your iPod a la Ray Charles, throw yourself in eating, whatever. You will be so damned engrossed in whatever it is you’re doing, you’ll appear to be simply too ‘in the zone’ to notice them. You cannot be blamed for being focused. It’s a highly admirable trait.
2) Okay, so you’ve failed to follow rule number one. Here’s where it gets a little sticky. Now, presumably you’ve noticed this person out of the corner of your eye, very quickly. You probably then snapped your head back to facing forward, to avoid them seeing YOU, but by doing this, you’ve lost the chance to find out where they’ve wound up. For example, if you’re on the subway, did they go to the back of the car? Are they sitting facing you? Are they pretending to be busy also? YOU DON’T KNOW. So, your best bet is to become enamored with somebody else. There’s almost always some kind of freak nearby. Locate them and start staring.
3.) Okay, so there’s no freak. Don’t panic. For the moment, pretend that you have just discovered your fingernails for the first time. Use this temporary diversion to think things through. Note your surroundings. Are there ads that you can pretend are amazing? Can you pretend to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations? Is there a discarded newspaper nearby that you can grab? A window you can gaze out of? You must be discreet about looking for these things. It is vital. Whipping your head around will only draw attention to you. Remember, mammals are attracted to movement. Make small movements and utilize your eyeball movement range as much as you can, to remain undetected.
4.) Okay, you’re shit out of luck. There’s nothing around. Don’t worry. Launch into depression mode. Here’s how: Pick a spot on the floor just ahead of you, and slightly away from the person you’re trying to avoid. Now, stare. Get lost in your terribly dark thoughts. Be sure to display a full, but not overblown, range of sad/upset/preoccupied emotions. Furrow your brow, bite your lip, sigh, rest your head on your hand. You might be being watched. You’re not sure, and you can’t check, cuz checking might lead to eye contact, which might encourage them to come over. Reminder: This Is Bad. Don’t flip through the emotions too quickly, then you’ll blow your cover. But if you do this right, they’ll leave you be. Nobody wants to disturb a potentially suicidal person. It’s like waking up a sleepwalker. It’s a stupid bet.
5.) Above all else, do NOT turn to face them. This is the stupidest thing you can do. Breaking out into song would be wiser, as it would intimidate them. Obviously it’s unnatural to only turn your head one way, so you have to be sure to look their way at least once or twice. Only a bit though! If you’re feeling brave and in control, then you can turn your head completely…..but overshoot a bit. And look beyond them. This will give you an out if they call you on the ‘you’re not there’ act. ‘Oh! I must have looked RIGHT at you and not even SEEN you! I don’t know where my head is some days! Tsk tsk tsk!’ Laugh on the inside a bit at this point.
6.) Despite my guidance, they might be super eager and not take the hint that you are clearly trying to ignore them. They might come over to see you. If they do, don’t jump up or turn around as soon as they say the first syllable of your name. This will give you away. Wait until they say it completely, then casually turn around, give it a millisecond and put on that fake surprised humbleness! ‘Oh, Joan! Heeeeey! How ARE you? I didn’t even see you, were you there that whole time?’
Obviously, I don’t have to follow any of these. At least, not consciously. I’m a fucking superstar at ignoring people. Plus, I look angry a lot, so they tend to not be inclined to bug me. This morning I stood right in front of two of them on the way to work and totally didn’t get roped into even a stilted hello. Don’t attempt this yet. That’s just brazen rudeness and it probably isn’t what you’re going for.
Feel free to print out the instructions. And remember, ignoring somebody isn’t rude. Not ignoring them, getting into a useless conversation and screaming at them while threatening bodily harm is rude. Really, you have the good of humankind in mind while doing it. If only they’d understand….