In the last month or so I’ve been attending a lot of birthday celebrations, and they all typically start out with a large dinner.
This is exciting for me because eating out is one of my favorite things to do. I’m doing all the same things I do at home – drinking excessive amounts of wine, having semi-intelligent conversation and eating myself into a food coma – only I’m somewhere else! It’s like a vacation away from the table at my apartment.
Most of these dinner celebrations that I go to go well, and that’s because I am keen to the fact that when going to a large dinner, one thing you must always remember is that it’s all about where you sit.
If you choose the wrong place, you could spend the entire dinner talking to some dude you barely know about how much his pants cost when your good friends are at the opposite end of the table engrossed in an argument over who would win in a race, Superman or The Flash.
You will curse yourself over and over again, wondering why, when you had the chance to properly sidle up next to your friends, you were checking out the menu with all the “funny drink names.”
Then, as you sit there and try and drink yourself into liking the couple of people you’ve been seated around, you must watch in pain as everyone else laughs and laughs and isn’t everything in life just so great!
You make the wrong move and the dinner is hell. Just like that.
Which is why I follow a few simple rules to make sure my Dinners With Lots Of People Including Some I Don’t Know go well.
First, I scope the scene. As soon as everyone arrives, and we stand around all awkward because we haven’t started drinking yet, I am on the look out for People I Don’t Know. I then mark them in my head by saying, “I don’t know that dude.”
This is very scientific.
Next, and most importantly, I make my move when we are casually entering the restaurant. This is the best time for the move, because everyone is thinking that they are just having dinner with some friends, when in fact you are deciding between life and death.
Finally, if the previous step does not work, I resort to using mind games. As we near the table, and I realize that I am dreadfully out of position, I will say something like, “Oh, that light is bright.” When it isn’t even bright! Some sucker will always take the bait and you can switch seats with him and thus enjoy dinner like it was supposed to be.
I beg you, reread those steps.
Read them, know them and most of all – dear god – use them.
If none of that works, I have to tell you, all is lost. Your best bet is to vomit on someone and leave, because that dinner is not going to be fun, it is just going to be one more Moment With Others that you regret.