As Featured on News Cult: How to Make Small Talk

Whether you’re meeting someone for the first time or stuck in an elevator with an acquaintance, you have to make chit chat sometimes. And, as its name suggests, it’s awful and cringe-worthy and the worst—it’s always against your will, so it doesn’t come easy.

Take it from someone who has no clue—here’s how to succeed at small talk.

Say the first thing that comes to mind

If someone with Tourette’s is allowed to do it, you should be too. Whether it’s, “Snakes!” or, “My mother doesn’t love me!” or, “I USED TO PEE IN THE SHOWER ON A REGULAR BASIS,” just blurt it out. #theconversationhastostartsomewhere

Play 20 Questions

Right out the gate—don’t preface it, just dive right in. E.g.

  1. “Are you a man or a woman?”
  2. “Are you dead or alive?”
  3. “Are you gay? [Rhetorical.]”

Nod and smile

At everything the other person says. This will convey, regardless of the facts, that you’re engaged/are listening/give a shit. I don’t care if they say, “… I just got back from a funeral,” or, “Oh, that’s my phone—it’s my girlfriend—I’m pretty sure she’s going to break up with me, so I just refuse to answer her calls,” or, “After this I’m going to jump off the roof”nodandsmileandnodandsmileandre-fucking-peat.

Ask lots of questions

We’ve gone over and over how much people love to talk about themselves. So the only thing you really have to do to survive the conversation is sustain it with questions—about them them them. Again, we are honing the fine art of pretending to care. And people buy it. So sell that inquisitiveness like it’s a subprime mortgage and you’re Wells Fargo.

•”So, what’s your story? Start from the womb. You choose number of weeks—gestation is a tricky topic, and I don’t want to be the one to tell you you’re a moron if you considered yourself a person before you were anything other than a mass of cells. Like a tumor. I mean, fuck—should we ban chemotherapy too?”

•”So which community college did you go to?”

•”Your haircut looks so affordable—where’d you get it?”

Establish trust

You want to put the other person at ease, and make them feel like they can tell you anything, so that the small talk will flow like the river of bullshit from Ted Cruz’s mouth. You can accomplish this by offering up a personal detail of your own to start the conversation. For example, tell them the number of sexual partners you’ve had (make sure to distinguish between oral and otherwise), or show them that sore you found on your tongue (optional: ask them what they think it is), or tell them how much money is in your trust fund. You say crossing lines, I say breaking down barriers. #tomato,tomatomothafuckaaaaaa

Throw out random sayings

There’s going to be a lot of dead air, so when you can’t think of anything to say to fill those awkward pauses, just pronounce a tried and true phrase. Like:

•”Well, there’s more than one way to skin your cat.”

•”You gotta go the whole nine months, am I right?”

•”Well, folks, that’s all murder she wrote.”

•”I wouldn’t trust you with a ten foot pole.”

•”No skin off my back/nose.. Teeth?”

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/youre-going-hate-6-ways-make-small-talk/

As Featured on News Cult: How to Talk to Guys About STDs

We went over how to talk to guys about condoms, but sometimes you have to rewind even further and start with the STD talk. Like a colonoscopy, broaching the subject of STDs is awkward and uncomfortable, but necessary. So drink that gallon of laxatives, because it’s time to grin and bear it. Here’s how. #youcanthankmewhenyoudon’tgetherpes

Be the one to bring it up

Because he sure as shit won’t. In my experience, guys will avoid the STD talk like it’s the truth and they’re Hillary Clinton—whether because they’re just too embarrassed or think that so long as a condom is used, STDs need never be spoken of (which is just not true—don’t make me go into all the ways you can and will have ‘intimate’ contact outside of the condom, because for one I hate the word ‘intimate’ and it makes me really uncomfortable and for two we all know it’s true—a condom does not provide 100% coverage or protection against anything—so don’t waste my time). Thusly, you have to be the bigger man [ironic] and start the dialogue. #they’rewelcome

Get it over with

Don’t wait to do it, because before you know it, you’ll find yourself moments away from penetration, which is not the best time to bring up who does/doesn’t have gonorrhea. Do it before, and when you’re far far away from, any sort of sexual or potentially sexual situation, so there’s no risk of having the talk after it already may be too late (one orgasm is not worth the price of contracting Hep C. Plus, we all know he’s not going to make you come anyways, so risking it is extra not worth it). I.e. take him to a soup kitchen to volunteer and bring it up when you’re ladling baked beans. Or at church. Or at dinner with your parents. Wherever and whenever you can have an honest, non-hormone fueled conversation about sexual health and safety.

Be thorough

Ask him when he was last tested and what for, and tell him your answers to those questions as well (if it’s a super uncomfortable/tense situation, offer to go first—this will disarm him. Lead by example. Like you would if you were teaching a child something. So, congratulations, your sexual partner is basically a child. I’m just gonna let that one sit with you). My understanding is that it can take up to 3-6 months for some STDs to show up on tests, so you should be tested 3-6 months after your last sexual contact/potential exposure to STDs (remember that STDs can be spread via lots of different types of contact/activities). This of course depends somewhat on your lifestyle, so obviously talk to a doctor to figure out what’s right for you (I sound like a prescription drug commercial. But don’t rely on me, because I’m not a medical professional—I would totally go to med school except I have a sneaking suspicion that being a doctor is not as scandalously fun as Grey’s Anatomy makes it look).

Don’t allow yourself to be talked out of it

I really don’t care if he doesn’t think it needs to be discussed for whatever insufficient excuse he makes up—the bottom line is that you need to be open with any sexual partner about their STD status and vice versa, unless you don’t give a fuck about your health or others’ (in which case, by all means, proceed sexually with other people who, like you, are self-interested fucking morons, and get alllll the genital warts the world has to offer. #youdeserveeachother #butkindlyleaveusoutofit).

Consider applying it to oral sex

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I know, I know—like no one talks about STDs before oral sex. But, again, I don’t really care what’s socially acceptable (I didn’t when I had—some may say, “rocked“—a mullet-rattail hybrid as a child, and I sure as hell don’t now). The fact is that a lot of STDs can be transmitted through oral sex (in addition to the plethora of other ways they can be spread, which we won’t get into now, but just some food for terrifying thought). Yes, this is a bummer, but life is terrible, so this is nothing new. So unless you want a throat full o’ HPV, I would have the talk before you put anything in your mouth, or anyone else’s.

Be open-minded

STDs don’t mean no sex. Some of them are curable, all are treatable, and none are some sort of definitive barrier to sex. Yes, they complicate sex, but you can have an STD(s) and still enjoy your sex life. They’re not any kind of death sentence—even the “scariest” one, HIV/AIDS, is getting more and more manageable. If you or your partner find out you have an STD, simply ask your doctor the best way to deal with it and still have sex. Coming from a completely OCD germaphobe, I know it can be tempting to refuse to have sex when any STD is involved. But honestly, unless you want to be celibate forever and join a convent, get the fuck over it. Life is messy. Sex is no exception. And I think that when you find that while sexual health may seem super complicated, it still is completely manageable, and grappling with it doesn’t require sacrificing the enjoyment of sex, you’ll just be more at peace with your existence (I’m pretty sure it was Buddha who said that. Or Charlie Sheen.)

Featured on News Cult: http://newscult.com/talk-guys-stds/

Guy at coffee bar: “I like your nails.”

Me: “Thanks!”

Guy at coffee bar: “And I’m not gay, so you can put it on Facebook: ‘A straight guy liked my nails!'”

Barista: “It’s usually the ones who say they’re not gay who are gay.”

Guy at coffee bar: “Well I am a lesbian.”

Me: “How?”

Guy at coffee bar: “Because I like women.”

Me: “Look, guys, I’m not wearing a bra right now, and my leggings have a giant hole in them, which I’m not sure if you can see, so I’m just really uncomfortable and gonna go…”