If you’re anything like myself in the heart of the south, you’ll observe that there are a few past times that are absolute musts – BBQ cookouts, sports and beer. All of these are essentially a good time and we can relish [punny] in the fact that, we can at least get a good hearty meal in, and make enough of a public appearance out so people don’t think you’re a social recluse.
Food brings us all together whether you like it or not. You don’t have to convince food that you’re interested in the NBA free agent picks, or that you prefer Natty Light over Michelob Ultra because you’re a beer snob that gags at both options. Food is universal. So here is a guide of getting through those cookouts, with people you love but might not have a ton in common with.
The first one comes as no surprise to anyone:
- Default to Sports: If you’re standing by yourself and looking to interact, go around a crowd of people and say ” How about them _________?” If you’re in Georgia it will be either “Dawgs” or “Falcons”. The blank is reserved for a football team you vaguely know a little bit about, long enough to break the ice and talk about something else. In the south, its how bro’s meet other bros… outside of checking out other women. You might be able to slide a mention about a video game you like, or your personal details outside of that, but just grab a beer and say “Yep” after that, and look, you made a cookout buddy.
- Suggest Console Gaming or Party Games: This might be your opportunity to get some people together and have them try out some games that the consensus likes. I’d suggest something middle ground like a first person shooter (Call of Duty-ish) or a good party favorite is the “So You Think You Can Dance” game series. Its a good way to loosen up the crowd and bring folks to your element of fun, without making it too uncomfortable to do so. By then, you’ll be the resident gamer of the party that pretty much no one can beat at Smash Brothers. That reminds me – make sure the game you bring is multiplayer and you have more controllers, duh.
- Always Compliment the Cook/Host: The biggest issues some people have when it comes to having events is that they’re too reserved with the people that matter the most – those who prepared the food and hosted the party. Make sure you get a plate, ask if you can have seconds… finish it, and then let them know how delicious it was. Also inquire if they need help cleaning and accommodate others when you see the opportunity. Especially if the food is baller.
- Avoid the Awkward Tension: We all know that you went to a liberal arts college, came back home for a weekend to catch up with other folks and you have all that angst about your hometown scene still in you. Try to let all of that go and just socialize a bit. This also means avoiding controversial topics for the most part. If you’re more of the liberal going to a conservative gathering try to hold out on those discussions unless it is ignited by someone else or it gets racist/uncomfortable. Same for a conservative at a mostly liberal function – know when to leave. Even then, thank the host for inviting you, but tell them you’ve got to go. Spare the details of why – most likely they will hear about it from others and will appreciate that you didn’t start drama. That’d be a conversation for another time.
- Don’t Rely On Rides – Drive: You want to be able to leave whenever you want to, because as introverts, excessive social interaction can be tiring and it could be an hour in or 4 hours: when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go. If you come with others just know that you could be inconveniencing them by wanting to leave early. When in doubt, schedule an Uber or Lyft at a certain time to come scoop you up, so you’re not at the mercy of someone else’s watch. Introverts hate time restraints.
- Drink Moderately and Bring Your Own Beer/Wine: To avoid critiquing the drink choices and seeming like the beer snob you know that you are, just bring your own 6 pack of IPA/Pilsner or whatever it is that you fancy. Most of the time no one else will want to drink it because its not Bud Light. By chance, someone does want to try your “hipster beer” and likes it, you just made a beer buddy (kudos for socialization points). Its much easier to drink in moderation when its a beverage you’re used to – not to mention much safer for yourself and others.
By all means use the Forth of July as a method of getting back to those people you love and care about. Play it smart by catering to your needs whilst also being considerate of those around you and the environment. Remember, we can’t control all situations but the interactions we have in them are 100 percent within our power. Go eat some ribs, have a beer and celebrate America. Fortnite will be waiting for you at home. Keep up the fight : The Player Way!