How to interact with high school acquaintances

giphy/Creative Commons

We’ve all been there. You’ve opted out of staying in Berkeley over the summer and decided to go home. You’re out and about. Let’s say you’re at the movie theaters and in line for popcorn. You’re deciding if you really do need that slurpee when out of the corner of your eye you see that acquaintance from high school. You never really knew that person that well, and if you pursue a conversation with them now, it will surely be confined to awkward small talk with no end in sight. Why should you be obligated to converse with this person whom you barely even talked to outside of AP Chemistry in high school? If you find yourself in this situation — and you probably will at some point — we at the Clog have put together some options for you on how to handle the situation.

1. Stare at something fervently.

Pick anything really. For instance, in the example above, you could gaze fixedly upon the twisting slurpee machine behind the food counter. Treat it as no ordinary contemplation of flavor but rather an existential crisis that can only be solved through figuring out if your heart desires red or blue. Hopefully, your intensity will scare them off from engaging you in conversation. After all, you’re preoccupied with a very serious matter — or so you make it seem, at least. It’s key you don’t break your gaze because any wayward glance may lead to a meeting of eyes. Once eye contact has been established, you are socially obligated to converse.

2. If you’re with someone, stare at them fervently.

This is even better. Make intense eye contact that will make any outside observer believe you are engrossed in a highly emotional and complicated conversation. It would be rude for anyone to intervene. Not to mention uncomfortable for all parties involved. Few would be willing to step into this situation, so your high school acquaintance will probably go on their merry way, thus freeing you from uncomfortable interactions. The person you’re with may act confused, but this will only add to the messiness of the perceived situation.

3. Look at them but show no sign of recognition.

This is the riskiest but also eliminates eye strain that may arise from the previously mentioned alternatives, which may be a serious concern for those contact-lens wearers out there. The goal is to make the person think you don’t remember or recognize them. This sets them up to believe that starting a conversation with you could be disastrous for their ego. It could confirm that they’re a forgettable person, which is something nobody wants to think of themselves as. Very few would be willing to go to the effort of trying to remind someone of their existence. If they shoot you back a look of recognition after your sign of none, perhaps add a hint of confusion to your facial expression. We know this is rude, cruel and deceptive, but immoral people need options too.

4. Be an adult and brave the small talk. 

This means making eye contact and giving them a smile or maybe even calling out their name. Just get it over with. The worse thing that can happen is that you have a few moments of uncomfortableness that tapers off into an awkward goodbye. You don’t have to ask them for the unabridged version of their life since you last talked, but do ask a few questions that can be answered in a couple of sentences and try to make the questions somewhat personal. If you feel like you need to end the conversation, just say you need to be somewhere and really should get going. That should be sufficient for anyone. Look, you handled that situation with the utmost grace and charm. Kate Middleton would be proud.

Image source: giphy

Contact Nora Harhen at [email protected].