My girlfriend's friends aren't forest creatures who speak in a series of clicks and whistles. They're English-speaking humans, and none of them have a deep, mystical bond with trees. Though there are two vegetarians, so close enough. At first, talking to them was more about listening than speaking. One of the big things that separates different cliques is cultural reference points, which, as I wrote about here, are a language unto themselves. If I say, "I am the one who knocks!" to someone who's never seen Breaking Bad, they'll assume I chose a weird way to open up discussion about my career as a pizza-delivery guy. So the first step was shutting up and soaking in who they are through their collective likes and dislikes.
From there, it became a matter of hoping I'm familiar with whatever these people are into so we can have some common ground. If I can't connect with anything, I'm potentially looking at a lifetime of s****y barbecues. If it turns out they're super into dog-fighting, I'm going to have to find a way to deal with that, and that sucks very much.
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Aerial dog-fighting. Did I forget to mention they're World War II fighter pilots?
Thankfully for me, her friends do not place bets on canine survival odds at their local bloody pit lined with cinder blocks. They enjoy things I like and know how to talk about. Arrested Development? I speak Arrested Development fluently. Overspending during Steam sales? I can speak that in all of its regional dialects. Wildly complicated European board games? Don't speak a word of it, but I'm open.