Unless it’s your first year here – actually, especially if it is – you should know this: Parties are overrated. Whether dealing with keggers at musty, beer-soused fraternities, claustrophobic house parties or awkward apartment get-togethers, don’t dare act as if you’re enjoying yourself. Acting bored and superior isn’t just the new cool – it always has been.

Steven Neff
Steven Neff
Steven Neff
Steven Neff

If you’re not already lighting up a Gauloise and muttering about absurdist theater and the evolution of jazz, here’s necessary help. So maybe you don’t know Samuel Beckett from Sidney Bechet – you can pretend.

Step 1: Isolate yourself. Nothing says distant and aloof like being physically distant and aloof. Choose your space wisely: At a party, a dark corner or back porch will suffice. Too many Midwestern sorority girls will be smoking in the front.

Step 2: Wear dark clothing, preferably something black or form-fitting. Resembling a Beat Generation writer/Stephen Malkmus amalgam creates an adequate level of pretension. Stark, rectangular-rimmed glasses and slip-on shoes are permissible accessories.

Step 3: Smoke cigarettes, lots of cigarettes – specifically brands that utilize timeless marketing aesthetics. The better the box, the better you look. Lucky Strikes are the obvious choice; Gauloise comes in second, pushing ahead of the rest of the pack because they are French.

Step 4a: With the privileged few you allow into your elite circle, discuss modernist and post-colonialist literature, or, at the very least, suggest that you do. Be seen with select volumes in your back pocket or messenger bag. Try W.S. Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch,” “Black Skin White Masks” by Frantz Fanon, anything Gertrude Stein.

Step 4b: If caught in a discussion about music, never admit your personal tastes first.

Step 5: If you must talk to other people, here are conversation starters:

“My interests? Mozart, James Joyce, sodomy.”1

“It made a lot more sense after I read ‘The Decameron’ for the second time – there’s just so much missing in the English translation.”

“But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is ‘Sussudio,’ a great, great song, a personal favorite.”2

Step 6: Wait for it. Don’t pick up girls/guys. They will come to you.

Step 7: Learn to appreciate satire. Congratulations – you are now bored and superior.

1. Bastardization of a Woody Allen line, “Annie Hall” (1977). 2. Quotation from “American Psycho” (1991), by Bret Easton Ellis.

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