To the new group, I am their present and, potentially, their future. But I don't fit into their past. When people start hitting their mid- to late-20s and real life truly starts kicking in, they pine for the days when they didn't care about anything other than hanging out with their friends.
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And their friends' genitals.
It's useless, though. There's no escaping the vortex of nostalgia talk. Well, I guess you could get close to them over years, experience things that makes you all grow closer, put in all the time and energy involved with being a trusted friend, and then, years later, ask them if they remember that one weird guy with the twitch from that party nine years ago and how strangely he pronounced "vagina" (it was "FAaao-China"). Or, you can just sit there pretending the rug pattern really is as interesting as you're making it seem. Your call.
If things are getting desperate waiting for your (hopefully) inevitable friendship breakthrough, you only have to do one thing to keep yourself in the game ...
Fake Laughing Until You Get Their Jokes
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When it comes to a shared sense of humor, I lucked out. I have never in my life clicked with a group's sense of humor more quickly and thoroughly than I did with my friends. With everyone else in life, I'm not so fortunate; my inherited circle of friends included.
I would often find myself in a room full of people, wondering why the hell everyone was laughing at something someone said. It was beyond not getting the joke; I didn't get the perspective. I didn't get who they were and why this particular string of words would be funny to this particular group. They had their own definition of funny, and their own set of references and language that triggered laughs. All that shit led to falling back on a tried-and-true evolutionary mechanism as basic to human survival as eating and sleeping: fake laughing.
Faking it is a placeholder. It's saying, "This noise supplants understanding what the hell is going on right now." If I don't do it, the actual look on my face would be the same one people make when they're trying to solve the murder in Clue.
"One -- or all -- of you are actively trying to murder this conversation with shitty jokes."
It's through this that I finally learned what it means when people say laughter is subjective. If you laugh at something and I don't, getting to know you can eventually broaden my perspective to the point of maybe, possibly, one day understanding why you laughed, maybe even laughing at it too. But until that day of enlightenment arrives, keep fake laughing until you're wondering if you have enough humanity left in you to experience real laughter anymore.
Luis is currently living as one of many stolen identities as he infiltrates cliques across America. Meanwhile, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
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