Having friends is a common social experience that anyone can enjoy! Experts estimate that in the Pre-Pandemic Era, approximately 99.999% of people had friends, with exceptions including hermits, really young babies, and you.
Sadly, the pandemic wrought havoc on most people’s social networks. Since many will soon be re-entering the social world after over a year away, now is the perfect time for you to enter it for the first time. So, here are some useful phrases to help blend as a former friends-haver!
“Hi!” (casual) or “Hello!” (formal)
Try one of these greetings; it will give the impression that you are used to greeting people and it does not frighten you.
“What is your name?”
This phrase will tell the listener you are accustomed to hearing and remembering names, rather than letting yourself get three years into an acquaintanceship with a neighbor while still calling them “bud.”
“Wow, I haven’t made a new friend in a while. What a treat!”
Emphasize “new”—you’ve definitely done this before! And remember to add that last phrase, which indicates you are enjoying this social experience.
“Ha ha! You remind me of my old friend, Amanda; she was an accountant who loved making bawdy jokes.”
Adding specifics is something people do when they’re telling the truth, so you should do it when you’re not. Remember to give all your old “friends” names, jobs, and (where appropriate) causes of death.
Food & Dining
“Once I was at an eatery with some people.”
Don’t mention that those people were the wait staff.
“Oh no, this bar I used to frequent with my chums closed down during the pandemic!”
It is very common for groups of friends to regularly patronize businesses, like bars and cafes (see Friends). Don’t mention you only know that’s true from watching Friends.
Clothes & Shopping
“Me and my close female friends used to go shopping and try on clothes together, sometimes in the same changing room! This practice is very common, but also intimate in a way that makes men uncomfortable. It does not make me uncomfortable, because I am accustomed to intimacy.”
No matter how terrifying a social ritual may seem to you, it’s important to act as though it is utterly commonplace and you didn’t vomit the last time you tried it. Top tip: Pack a paper bag in your social travels, in case of nausea.
“You’d like to hang out as friends? You’ll have to tell me the proper procedure—I know it, of course, but I want to make sure YOU know it!”
When you fear your horrible secret may soon be revealed, use the psychological concept of displacement to your advantage by shifting suspicion onto the listener! The social sphere is a dog-eat-dog world and the best way to survive is to direct paranoia onto others (see The Twilight Zone).
Common Mistakes to Avoid
“I can’t believe it’s been only a year since I hugged someone!”
Time works differently for people with friends.
“I/We bought six pints of ice cream and ate them all while watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey on a loop.”
Remember to replace “I” with “we” and “my” with “our” when telling stories from your past—this technique will turn any activity from sad to crowded! It works with anything: “I/We haven’t spoken to another human in a year,” “No one came to my our graduation dinner,” and “I/We couldn’t get anyone to pick us up after my our appendectomy appendectomies and so we drove ourselves home while on painkillers.” Fun with friends!
We hope you’ve found this phrasebook to be a gentle, informative first step in your journey from your filthy nest of bedclothes into the world of friendship. Get out there, bud—and remember, no one must ever know who you used to be!