How to survive a walk down Sheridan Road
Let’s face it: you didn’t come to Northwestern because you’re good at socializing. You probably came here because you got a 33 on your ACT, placed in the semifinals of Scholastic Bowl, and get offended when Harry Potter placement quizzes dare to put you in Gryffindor (RAVENCLAW 4 LYFE BRAH).
Yet I’m sure your social skillz have blossomed beautifully over the last few months or years. Just the other day I saw a friend on a shuttle and managed to sit next to him and hold polite conversation for 30 whole seconds without saying the word “scrotum!" So that was successful.
But, since not all social interactions can go that smoothly, I’ve decided to try and bestow some advice on the most socially difficult situation an NU student can run into: seeing someone you know on Sheridan Road.
Here’s what to do in a variety of situations:
Someone you’ve never met, but you know who they are: DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT. Look down or up or at your phone or to the side or pretty much anywhere but into their corneas. If you’re particularly socially able, engage in conversation with the person you’re walking with. This will make it less obvious that you are feverishly watching the other person in your peripheral vision.
Someone you’ve met once or twice: Depending on how the last interaction went, it may be acceptable to wave or say a quick “hi." This is certainly not required, and the other person should not be offended if you do not do so. But if the last encounter you had was pleasant and social you should feel free to greet them briefly as you pass. However, this is NOT a situation where you stop and say, “How ARE you? Ugh, I feel like we haven’t talked in forever! Let’s get Kafein soon!”
Someone you know casually, as in from a party or through a mutual friend: Say hello and wave. This is an opportunity to make a friend! If they seem particularly excited, you can throw in a “How are ya?” or “How’ve you been?” After several of these encounters and if the blooming friendship seems consensual, you can stop to talk or add a little more to the conversation.
Someone who you drunkenly met and hung out with at a party: Oh God this can be awkward. First, how sure are you that they even remember you? If they were potentially blacked out, do not make eye contact unless they prompt it. If you’re sure they remember you and you didn’t do anything awkward, wave casually and maybe smile. If, however, it was one of those terrific drunken nights where you bond on the roof of Swift, feel free to be more enthusiastic. If you’re both still just glad to be alive, perhaps share a knowing laugh. If you ended the night by promising to become bestiez and exchanging numbers, you should probably hug. You are bestiez now, after all.
Someone you’ve hung out with several times: Say hi. Try to be normal. Hopefully you have something to talk about for a moment. If not try “How ARE you? Ugh, I feel like we haven’t talked in forever! Let’s get Kafein soon!”
A friend of yours: I usually go with “WAZZUP BROSEF STALIN, HOW YOU BE HANGING MAYN?!”. You may choose to be less heinous if you wish, but if that’s your goal I don’t really understand why you’re reading this.
One of your best friends: Pretend to ignore them. This is hilarious every time and never gets old.
That kid who lived in your hall last year but you never talked to: Stare at the sidewalk. The sidewalk is so fucking interesting. Oh, is that a flyer for the SASA Show? Why yes it is. That must be the most fucking fascinating flyer you’ve ever seen. Absorb it into your brainmind.
A professor you once had: Wink. Please. Just do it and then tell me how it went and whether or not they immediately made violent love to you.
A girl you hooked up with last year: Are you past the awkward stage? If so, act like it’s a friend. If not, act like it’s a kid who lived in your hall last year but you never talked to.
A girl you knocked up last year: PAY HER CHILD SUPPORT. STOP RUNNING AWAY. THIS IS YOUR CHILD TOO AND IT NEEDS A FATHER. MAN UP YOU LITTLE BITCH.
A kid in your discussion section: If you sit near each other and talk often, wave and/or say hi. If you don’t really talk but think they could be your soulmate, slowly drift over toward them. As you approach you’ll have two options: either grab them forcefully and run off, physically taking them with you, or bump into them and say “Sorry! Oh, you’re in my Human Sex lecture aren’t you? I’m sure we’d make great Human Sex.” Both of these should work.
Now, it’s important to remember that all of this is dependent on timing. No matter who the other person is, if you start looking at them too early or too late the encounter will be awkward and Northwesternish. Try to make eye contact no more than six steps in advance and no fewer than four. This way even an awkward encounter will be over quickly, but if you decide you’re enjoying it you can stop and make it last longer. Wait. Guys. That sounded sexual. Please don’t have intercourse on Sheridan.