Illustration: Valiant Chan

Illustration: Valiant Chan


Are you socially awkward and uncomfortable with talking to people? Confused on social etiquette and curious about the world? Wondering if there’s anything you can do to make things better? You’ve come to the right place! As a well-seasoned veteran in the art of conversation, I’m here to help. In this guide, I’ll teach you four easy acts you must do when meeting new people. I can vouch for their effectiveness—I’ve done them all!



Suppose you’re mingling at your second cousin’s 20th birthday bash, and you’re standing in a room full of strangers with a non-alcoholic fruit cocktail in your hand, nervously shifting your weight from your left foot to your right, when all of a sudden, your friend comes over and introduces you to a new person. He extends one hand and you know you need to shake it. How do you make a strong impression?

Consider doing a Weird Handshake­, which is like a normal handshake but designed to show off your fun and quirky personality! Grasp his hand by the fingers and pull on them, slowly but surely, like you’re milking a cow, and say, “I work on a dairy farm.” Or take his hand and engage in mid-air sawing, like you’re cutting through an imaginary log, and say, “I’m a lumberjack!” Or negate the talking and just do both actions at once, while staring soulfully into his eyes. This will be the icebreaker you need to step past the frontiers of stranger danger and into a lifelong friendship. If anything else, your conversation partner sure will remember you.



Now that you’ve initiated contact, the conversation needs to keep flowing. Typical small talk usually consists of remarks about the weather, schoolwork, or how badly you’re failing math, served over coffee and the occasional dry silence in which both of you raise your cup to drink so you don’t have to say anything. You can do better than this. Ask the tough questions. Ask questions that are thought provoking, that sometimes have lasting psychological effects.

Vampires or werewolves? Twilight or Harry Potter? What do you wish for most in this world? What is your greatest fear? Why did your father leave your family when you were seven years old? Was it something you did? Does it keep you up at night? Did you ever get over your abandonment issues? It’s okay to cry, you know. It’s okay to cry.



If the conversation is beginning to dwindle away, do not fret, the socialization doesn’t have to end. Invite him to play chess with you. Engage in a brutal, fight-to-the-death, unsympathetic chess duel. Destroy his king, lest your king be destroyed by him. You do not have to talk. It is not necessary. It is only a distraction.

If you win, you will have successfully asserted your dominance over his weaker chess abilities. You will be able to drive conversation anywhere you want, much like how a shepherd would herd sheep. (He is the sheep. You are the shepherd.)

If you lose, well. It’s awkward. Don’t lose.



What a successful night of socializing! You’re tired but happy, and ready to call it a day. How do you end the conversation with a bang?

Thank your partner for a wonderful time, and tell him you’d like to do this again one day. Then take out the Sky Rocket 3000 Deluxe you keep in your bag, the biggest, most explosive, most awesome and colourful fireworks in the entire Western Hemisphere! Take them out, and light them up. Say goodbye.


The Sky Rocket detonates.

The house burns down.

In the smoke, you disappear.

And there he stands, face smudged and gritty with dirt, coughing, squinting through the darkened night.

*NOTE: The Reckoner strongly advises against following this guide. The author lives under a rock, and has no idea what she’s talking about.