back to the Black Table

Do you glide too easily down the sidewalk, looking comfortable in your skin and somehow, unquantifiably, limber, as if you've just come from a Pilates class or a low-impact orgy? Do you remain confident in your speech patterns and conversational abilities throughout the course of the day? Do you love the challenge of meeting people, every stranger a potential friend?

Aspiring hipster, take note: in certain circles, the simple inability to face straightforward interactions with ease is interpreted as a sign of intelligence and a rebellious flouting of social convention. It can impart an enticing sheen to even the most appallingly unattractive. Consider success stories like Woody Allen, who despite questionable physical characteristics and grooming always gets beautiful chicks, or spastic Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give, where she finally gets to do it with someone who isn't Woody Allen; the band chick in American Pie, or Adam Sandler in any movie. They got where they did through a combination of stammering, over-sharing, paranoia, and strange ticks.

But they never took it too far (Boo Radley -- scary, agoraphobic, no sex; Rainman -- somewhat sexy in cinematic context, but a bummer in real world). Beware: only you will be held accountable for the possible loss of self-respect or romantic prospects resulting from the implementation of the strategies outlined below. It is your job, dear hipster, to walk the line between developmental disability and rockingness.

Let's face it, there's no real substitute for the mind-blowing power of awkwardness born of true self-consciousness and social deficiency. But with the help of the following primer, you should be on your way to an convincingly twitchier persona in a matter of days.

How to Make Your Body More Awkward.

Body language is very important. It is an absolute must, by one means or another, to always have some residue of saliva on your


fingertips. Nail-biting, knuckle-chewing, and oral cuticle-trimming are all encouraged.

Both hipsters and pedophiles will love these moves. Barring actual contact between the tongue and palms or digits, the hands should in some way be used to form a barricade about the face. Obstruct your speech when possible. There is nothing so awkward as having to repeat oneself because one's own hand was over one's mouth.

Decrease the space between your shoulders and ears by half.

Cultivate a facial expression that says, "I am so vulnerable I could break down in tears at any moment." Move your head as little


as possible. Move your eyes around constantly. Keep your lips slightly apart, in the manner of someone who could say something at any moment, or has been a recent witness to something terrible.

Remember, Paranoia is a Lifestyle Choice.

Confidence is not for you, little one. Don't take for granted that what you think is cool, others think is cool, or any general agreement of


the sort. Continually ask yourself, "What is he/she thinking?"

On the surface, you're describing the details of your day. In the roiling pit below, you should be incanting several frenzied chants: "I have failed to do anything interesting since 1986, when I pantsed the substitute teacher; I do not have a firm grasp on the English language; I do not have my finger on the pulse; and so on. If conversation is face-to-face rather than over email or phone, the obvious things, such as: I just spit. I just spit; I'm sweating through my shirt; What if he/she has an overdeveloped sense of smell and I haven't sufficiently wiped?"



And so on.

Assume the counter people at your local deli dislike you intensely. They keep tabs on your dietary habits and mock you at great length in your absence. They have pet names for you and also accuse you of doing weird sex stuff or of never having sex. At the very least they imitate your walk.

It is important to keep in mind that whomever you are speaking with is better than you in mysterious, incalculable ways. And savvy, very savvy. Whatever it is you are hiding, they will know.

Party Pooping.

The central axiom of party-attendance is the following: Head for the Chips.


  1. You will not be able to talk.
  2. If you play your cards correctly, you'll give off the impression that you are too good for the party, and not the opposite. You will most likely be feeling an intense gratefulness toward said chips, which will comprise your single most powerful lifeline, but it's key here not to seem as though you are enjoying them too much (you pathetic fat ass). Your look should say, "These shits are stale. But I'll take a free mouthful of flavorless grease over a lame conversation with you any day."
  3. Guys dig fat chicks.
  4. This is all you really need to know, but for the sake of appearances I will break down party-going into three distinct categories.


I. Obligatory Office Party.

This is the worst kind of party, a.k.a. the best kind of party in disguise. Everyone here will be awkward and uncomfortable. Anyone who's not sucks.

II. The Orchestrated Hook-up Party.

You are the willing marionette. He or she probably lives out of town, or will be flying off to some remote location in the near future (i.e. smolderingly sexy even if actually abjectly pathetic nerd). Ever the innocent lamb, do not let on for one second that you wish to speak to this person, not to mention ram your tongue down their lovely pale throat or rub yourself all over with their shiny mystique. Persist for approximately 45 minutes.

Only approach once you are safely buffeted by a group of common acquaintances. Don't speak; let your friends do the talking, and transform your lips into a handy chew-toy. Shoot sidelong glances at the person next to the person on whom you wish to mack. Misunderstandings may arise, but this will only add a kind of alluring turbulence to the proceedings. Your friends may threaten to disown you, but at all costs:

Don't forget about the chips.

Note to males: It doesn't matter if you're actually Hugh Hefner. Act like you have absolutely no game: you'll seem decent in bed no matter what if she thinks she's about to do it with an epileptic stutterer. In fact, it would not be going too far to develop a stutter; or some kind of affect that subtly whispers "disability." A slack jaw and slow response time are a good fix-all for the less imaginative. But better yet are a variety of slight, highly individualized ticks.

Once in a blue moon, flummox one of your female friends by directly and unapologetically staring at her breasts. This will remind her that you really are a man and that she has tits, and you that you really are a man and that she has tits. It's good for all parties involved, in moderation. Then forget she has tits and spend more time contemplating your own, and whether they are getting too big or soft (conversely you might try to cultivate man-tits).

III. Every Other Kind of Party.

Avoid like the plague.