In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to Make New Friends

One of the pleasures of being a journalist is you have the absolute imperative to talk to people. Don't and you'll be out a job. And it's quite easy when you have a deadline... you have a snese of urgency that allows you to overcome any sense of shyness.
So talking to strangers not a problem for me.

Separately, I've always been very interested about how adults make friends outside of work or other organized activities. Massive studying has ensued, mostly by asking people how they may friends outside of work.

Further separately, I'm interested in barflies -- people who hang out at bars alone and chat up strangers and bartenders. What do they say? I know some of these people, so I've asked them.

Here's what I've come up with. It's kind of stupid. But it works.


It helps if it's said in kind of a singsong voice, not like a scary aggressive hello.

You say hello. Not hi -- hi is overly familiar, assertive, seems to expect something. Simiarly, hey is offputting too -- it can precede either hey, how are you, or hey I was sitting there. You don't know where it's going.

Hello is polite, and funnily formal, and necessitates nothing more than a hello back. But because of that, you often get a lot more back than just hello -- you get interest, an ear, a potential new friend... a person who likes that you have acknowledged them, and done so in a friendly way, and not overly familiarly. Hello checks so many wonderful boxes.

Most people are desperate to be talked to, and are usually too shy to reach out themselves, and are so consumed with how they are being perceived etc. So dont worry about how you will be perceived yourself -- because they are so busy worrying about themselves, they dont have time to judge you.


Try it, report back. I am making my friend Erin my guinea pig. She has to say hello to five people (of the male persuasion, in her case) next week.


  1. Oh dear. I have no idea what the Spanish equivalent is of a sing-songy "hello".

    Hola, buen dia, buenas, oye!, que sopa?

  2. I'd go with "ho-la" and a tilt of the head, with a smile. Also, I met your doppelganger recently. She is totally lovely. I showed her your picture on facebook and she agreed. She actually looks exactly like the portrain seth painted of you...