I know what you”re thinking. It”s hard to meet new people, isn”t it? You”ve been out there in the world with the monsters and animals and only have emotional scars to show for it. You”ve been used, and, perhaps, abused. You”ve been lied to. You”ve been broken down, torn apart and thrown to the wind.

Paul Wong

But OK, now listen to this. People aren”t so terrible. Just because you”ve had a few bad experiences doesn”t mean you should give up on humanity. There are good people out there. Most of them aren”t out to destroy you and some of them would even be interested in getting to know you.

I”ll admit it. I”ve never done much in the way of charity or community service. I don”t donate my time to soup kitchens, I don”t give my spare change to Ann Arbor”s lovable hobo population and an “Alternative Spring Break” for me would mean anything other than getting drunk for six straight nights. So I”ve decided to use this column to give back to society and help all of you single people out there find that special guy or girl. It might be too late to find someone to bring home to the family on Thanksgiving, but if you follow my advice, you stand a passing chance of not being alone come Valentine”s Day. The wind being up, let”s begin:

Rubric 1: Confidence pricks us on

The first thing you need to do, before anything else, is ditch that horrible stink of defeat and depression that”s been hanging on you like a cheap suit. You haven”t been lucky in love that much is obvious. But please try to hide it, because everyone can smell it on you, and the scent of desperation is worse than your morning breath and body odor combined, which by the way you should try to do something about. Confidence is key in meeting new people. One way to create confidence is to adopt an “I”m all that and a side order of rings” attitude, in which you don”t have to stress about how you look or what other people think about you because you know that you are some hot, desirable stuff. Before entering a public place, repeat this phrase to yourself, no less than five times: “Everybody here wants to do me.” After a while, you will start to believe it, and people will take notice.

Body language is also very important. Stand tall. Knuckles off the ground. Hands out of armpits and in away from the front of your pants. Fingers out of all orifices. No bouncing from foot to foot. Stop your hands from shaking at all costs. The sex symbols on television and movies, you don”t see their hands shaking, do you? It is also a good idea to accentuate the best aspects of your body, if there are any. If you are a female and you have a well-developed chest, for example, you might wear something with a low neckline or stand in a way that draws attention to your upper torso. If you are a male and you think that your genitals are “the bomb,” find ways to subtly point to your crotch. The subliminal messaging will not be lost on the other people in the room.

Rubric 2: Of situations and conversations

As a wise man once said, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Cheesy and overused “pick-up lines” never work (unless you are famous, in which case anything you say will work). Lines like “Have we met before?” and “You write a really funny column for the Daily” are notoriously lame and will only result in humiliation, as if you need more of that. But you will still need an conversation opener to break the ice. Try these:

In class: “Wow, this class somehow both sucks and blows at the same time. I wish I was at home listening to John Coltrane”s “A Love Supreme”.” This will show that you have a keen wit and a sophisticated understanding of music.

At a house party: “This beer tastes like piss. I drink Heineken, mostly. Would you like to dance?” This will show that you have discriminating tastes in alcohol and like to have fun. Everyone loves a dancer.

In line at Shaman Drum: “I can”t fucking stand this place. Do all English professors have to order their books here? Hey look, we”ve almost made it to Biener”s Wieners. This is the only hot dog stand I”ll buy from. Would you like to have a turkey dog with me?” This will show that, as an English major, you have a passion for literature very sexy, by the way and that you respect local merchants, you are generous and you care about your health.

To maintain conversation once it”s started, engage the emotional side of the person you”re talking to with provocative questions like “What do you hate most about yourself?” and “What do you hate most about your family?” Don”t be afraid to ask the person what their top five movies of all time are, or what”s in their CD player at the moment. If the same questions are asked of you, avoid being honest in your answers. Instead, pick movies and CDs that might impress who you are talking to. The type of person and situation will dictate what these might be. Use your best judgment.

Rubric 3: Closing the deal

If you”ve gotten this far, the rest is cake. Avoid at all costs the urge to say “Yeah, so maybe we should get coffee sometime?” You are not fooling anyone! Also, avoid any variation of “I know we just met in line at Shaman Drum and everything, but I really feel like I love you. Do you love me?” Bad form, as they say.

As a general rule, men find it endearing and fun when the lady takes charge, as it saves them the risk of an awkward situation. So women, you might say something like “Well it was really nice meeting you. You”ll be picking me up this Saturday at 7:30 at my house we”re going to Palio”s for dinner then Conor O”Neill”s for drinks.” The guy won”t know what hit him! Another general rule is that women hate nice guys and love being treated like garbage. So men, you might say something like “Maybe I”ll try to find your e-mail address or something, but I probably won”t e-mail you, because you seem like a total loser I wouldn”t want to be seen in public with. But I might e-mail you so we can make plans sometime. But probably not.”

Hey, real quick. This has nothing to do with the column or anything, but my editor, Jane, has really been on my case lately to start work on this condom review feature I promised I would write. I was joking when I said I”d do it, but apparently she thought I was serious so I”m kinda up Shit”s Creek, here. Anyway, if you”re a female, ages 18-30, who would like to be a participant in a fun little experiment, the results of which will be used in an upcoming Weekend, Etc. feature, e-mail me. The study would take 5-30 minutes and you will be paid $10. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Ben Goldstein can be reached at bjgoldst@umich.edu

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