My Life on the G List: Party Time
BY David Moretti
April 13 2010 11:20 AM ET
When you don’t know someone but sense you should, a sort of strained
interaction takes place. An introduction is made — often on the flimsiest
of commonalities — and then something shiny takes away Mr. Matchmaker’s
attention. You are left standing there without the comfort of your
mutual buffer, knowing you are supposed to butter each other up
long enough to not appear rude yet briefly enough to not appear
desperate. A few generic lines pop up over and over, and you must act
just as flattered/interested/inspired each time they are uttered. “Hey,
you look so slim in that suit ... Marc Jacobs?” “What are you working on
these days? It’s hell out there!” “Wasn’t Mo’Nique’s performance
brilliant?” You have to get through this exchange without being awkward.
Politeness, compliments, and brevity go a long way.
It’s no surprise that these surface-oriented conversations undoubtedly run their course rather quickly. The real key to these conversations is moving on without being the rude guy. For maximum impact, you have to be charming from the get-go and depart quickly, making them want more ... more ... more! There is that lingering moment after the last spoken word where neither party knows what to say and, after a nice pregnant pause, the conversation quickly turns to banal topics like your drink of choice or the beauty of the space in which you are standing. If you get to this point, it’s already too late. You must find a way to move on. And you can’t just pour a drink over your shoulder and run for the bar like in your college days. Well, actually, I have done this once or twice — but it’s completely obvious that you’re beyond caring. Another example of flagrant carelessness is the old, “Well, nice chatting with you!” followed by an awkward move to separate corners of the same empty room where each party pretends to text when they are really on Facebook or Grindr. Such is completely transparent and borderline offensive. You have to make a better effort.
In an ideal world you will have a wing-person or assistant who recognizes your dilemma and casually pulls a “Hey David, I gotta talk to you about such-and-such” while politely excusing you from the stale conversation. You quickly exchange business cards with your conversation partner and call it a day. In a less than ideal world you have to fend for yourself. This is where the pros are separated from the amateurs. It really is a bit of an art form getting out of certain sticky situations yet leaving the window open for future contact.