awkward

How to Meet Someone

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Con’t be afraid to crop out dark spots in your photos.
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With the end of the year comes a host of potentially awkward situations for an Oreo: office holiday parties, obligatory shindigs thrown by vague acquaintances, family dinners, the lack of new Shark Tank and Kitchen Nightmares episodes.

Not only is the Oreo forced to make make-believe merry with people who also don’t want to be there, but she or he might get stuck talking to another of color, or worse, an RBP. In some cases, an Oreo might find herself in the extra sticky situation of having to introduce another melanin-rich individual to someone else. Or worse, they might be introduced to a black person by a malicious member of their blanchetourage.

In either case, it is imperative to make it clear that the Oreo a) does not know this person well b) does not wish to know this person well and c) hopes no one gets to know this person well. Too much familiarity and an onlooker is certain to fear a gang-fight.

Here are some steps you can take at your next party to make sure that everyone knows you’re only shaking this person’s hand to be polite.

Mispronounce their name. Nothing says that you just don’t give a shit like the mispronunciation of a name you just heard learned. If you’re meeting a Michael, try calling them Michelle, La-Michael or Quantas to make sure no one thinks you’re friends. Adding an “accidental”  “La-” a “D'” or a “-eesha” to the beginning or end of most names will make them sound super black and thus allow everyone to recognize how little you think of this person. It will also draw attention to their darkness and keep people from looking at yours.

Look Away. Whether you look just above their heads, to the left or right of their ears or bury your face in yours or your neighbor’s purse, keep yourself from locking eyes with the Other. You don’t want them thinking that they can engage you in further conversation or steal your soul–which they will do.

Accentuate the negative. This will highlight your own accomplishments as well as ensure that mutual friends will try to keep their distance, which in turn, will help you keep yours. Try saying something like:

  • “Hi Marcie, this is LaJennifer-eessha, her divorce should be just about final by now.”
  • “Nice to meet you.. D’Steven, was it? Didn’t I see you in the parking lot just before that busload of children was shot… Huh. Must have been your twin, then!”
  • “This is LaD’EeshaJohnFootballPlayer. His sentencing hearing is next week. What’s that? You’ve never been convicted of anything? Huh, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. I mean… look at you!”

With phrases like these, you’ll ensure that the conversation will be brief and your humiliation bearable.

No touch. While you may not be able to get away with avoiding a handshake, do not under any circumstances hug, kiss, tickle or sleep with this person. You’re dark enough. You don’t want that shit rubbing off on you.

For more tips and tricks for social situations, see below.

Click here for an additional Holiday Party Survival Guide

Click here for info on how to deal with someone who looks Mixed Race

Click here to see how to deal with a white person who surprises you by suddenly sounding all black out of nowhere.

Celebrate carefully, my friends.

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How to Take a Compliment

Yesterday at Zumba, I ended up chatting with a girl before class. It was her first time and she was excited, but nervous about not being able to keep up. I told her it was super fun and would be totally fine.

I mean, look at it! How can that not be fun!! Oh, because it's in public and people can judge you? Okay, there is that.

I understood her concern. I was, myself, initially worried about taking Zumba. One one hand, it’s a great, fun way to exercise. On the other, it’s dancing and it’s trendy, so the risk is having to do something hip-hoppy is always there. But when the moves lean a little to far toward popping or locking, I feign confusion, pull out something from swing dancing and generally feel much better.

Yesterday, however, something happened that always sends shivvers down my spine. Something that makes me want to run away and hide. Something that brings a quivver to my lip and a tear to my eye. The girl complimented me.

“That was fun!” she said. “And you look great out there, you really know what you’re doing.”

Oh crap.

Like everyone else on the cusps of Gens X and Y, who chose the arts as a profession and whose parents had more than a few unrealized dreams, I am pretty sure that everything I touch turns to poo. Like I”m always wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes. I can’t help it. Thinking of myself in glowing terms feels as off as thinking of myself as a dude. It’s not that I don’t enjoy life and things, I’m just a writer. We’re always kind of melancholy.

Plus, I never know how to respond to compliments. Be in agreement with the person talking to you and you’re an arrogant ass. Blow off what they say and you’re ungrateful and rude. It’s like hugging a tall person. Do you go up around their neck like you’re a child or a baby monkey? Or do you hug them around their waist like you’re their lover.

Or high-fiving?!? Geez! Could there be a more awkward social interaction? I think I’d rather make out with a stranger than high-five them. I mean, in the H5, how hard do you hit, how hard do you receive? How do you know they’re going for a high-five and not just swatting a bug out of the air?

Look at that! It's so vague. That could mean "I'm here," or "Stop!" or "Taxi!" or "Throw it to me." How are you supposed to know??

Pretty much all of those thoughts went through my head after class and my new friend probably wondered why I was staring quite so hard into the middle distance when all she tried to do was be nice to me.

Here’s what I can ascertain is the proper procedure for receiving a compliment. What do you think?

Step 1: Do something to the best of your ability while telling yourself that even though you’re doing it all all wrong, you’re a better person for tackling the intellectual exercise of doing something that makes you want to crap your pants.

Step 2: Try to escape the location as quickly as possible without making eye contact with any person, place or thing. But, when someone inevitably stops you and tells you they enjoyed whatever you internally sobbed your way through…

Step 3: Say “thank you,” but assume that any of the following is more likely than that person meaning whatever they just told you.

  • An alien has temporarily possessed your body and has abilities far beyond yours. This alien will leave your body soon and people will continue to expect great things of you, that because you are alien-less, you will be unable to perform.
  • An alien has temporarily possessed the body of your complimentor and has tastes and expectations that are far below the average human. This alien will soon leave your complimentor’s body and that person, because they are alien-less, will forever wonder why the hell you keep chatting to them on facebook.
  • The person is drunk and high, or otherwise addled and has no idea what they’re saying.
  • The person is saying something nice because you were so terrifically terrifying that they’re worried that if they don’t say something nice, you’ll kill everyone.
  • The person meant to be complimenting someone else.
  • The person IS complimenting someone else, but you are so delusional that you think they’re talking to you.
  • The person actually only asked you what time it was.
  • The person actually did mean to compliment you, but you are suddenly stinkier than any person has ever been ever and they regret the moment they came within fifty yards of you.
  • You are in the middle of a waking dream.

Pretty standard checklist, right?

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To see more journeys through dance, check out these links…

I started here, freaking out in the castle with WhitePal. That’s right. I said “castle”….Then, I got back into the swing of things…took a chance at real dance in this video…and developed a handy survival guide  in case Zumba is canceled and another dance class takes its place.

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