Having moved to a new faraway city, I find myself meeting a lot of new people. Back home — I still think of Indianapolis as "home" — I knew plenty of people, and could always count on bumping into someone I knew at one of my regular haunts.
Except now I don't have a regular haunt, which means I have to find some new ones, which involves a lot of trial and error. Delicious, and rather unhealthy, trial and error.
Also, I don't know anyone in my new city. This means when I meet someone, which I actually enjoy, I go through the same get-to-know-you dance over and over. We ask and answer the same questions: What do you do for a living? Do you have any kids? What do you do for fun?
After a while, I think my answers sound boring, sort of like when you say the same word over and over, and it sounds weird. I worry that I'm coming across as an uninteresting person, so I occasionally make up answers just to relieve the monotony and feel better about myself.
"What do you do?" someone asked me once.
"Write soft-core porn for seniors."
In my defense, it was the first, and funniest, thing to pop in my head, so I blurted it out before I could stop myself.
Also in my defense, I used to get into trouble for speaking without thinking; it was a problem that plagued me for years before I finally learned to control my impulses.
I just have occasional lapses once in a while.
The poor guy was more than a little shocked, so I promised him I was only joking, and that I've never done anything of the sort. I don't know how well my joke went over though, since we've never been back to that church.
Based on my years of networking and meeting new people, and the fact that I've written a book on the subject, I've learned the right and wrong — oh, so very wrong — answers to give when I'm getting to know someone in my new city.
What not to say: I watch Netflix 'til about two in the morning before I go to bed. Then I get up around 8:00 or 8:30 and roll into the office around 10, get into pointless arguments on Twitter, take a long lunch, and get back around 2:00. I'll do a little work, head home around 4 – 4:30, do a little more work, and start watching TV around 8 or 9.
What to say: I'm a professional writer. What do you do?
What not to say: Ha, good question! My father was a merchant marine for nearly 30 years, and he was a firm believer in "any port in a storm." We're always meeting new ones, and at last count we were up to 16, including ones from Peru, Iceland, and Sri Lanka.
What to say: One brother and one sister.
What not to say: I get large salamis from the butcher and then pretend they've been captured and are being sent down a slow conveyor belt toward a giant table saw blade. Then I pretend I'm James Bond, and I have to rescue them before they reach their grisly end. Sometimes I fail on purpose so I get to have salami and cheese for lunch.
What to say: I do woodworking on the weekends.
What not to say: The skulls of my vanquished foes!
What to say: I collect Sherlock Holmes memorabilia.
What not to say: I farted around for a few years before I nearly failed out. So I broke into the bursar's office one night, changed all my grades to give myself a 3.95 GPA, and from there, I went to medical school in the Caribbean. After that, I posed as a doctor until I was finally found out after several of my patients "suffered severe complications."
What to say: Ball State University, class of 89.
What not to say: I don't see how that's any of your business, and if you don't know, I'm certainly not going to tell you.
What to say: No, I don't know how fast I was going, officer.
And if you're curious, no, I have never actually done any of these things. Are you kidding? Do you think I'm a moron? This is a humor column, so you can't take anything I say in here seriously. I know how to act like an adult, and know to never actually do or say this stuff! Come on, man, give me some credit for having half a brain.
What to say: Thank you for reading! Have a good week.
You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.