I treated myself to brunch in Wrigleyville since I needed to kill a few hours before reporting to to the stadium.
“Waiting for one more?” my server asked.
I shook my head and said, cooly, “Nah, it’s just me.”
Brunch, the most social of pastimes, achieves optimum brunchiness when coupled with gaggles of talkative, laughing friends. That said, I am not afraid of eating alone when I travel. This must have seemed curious to my server, who kept throwing quizzical glances my way throughout the meal. When she brought me the check, she said,
“Sorry if I seem a little amazed here, but doing brunch solo. That’s so badass!”
“No,” I said as I raised my glass to her, “You are badass!”
Turning a compliment around to include the person who gave it to me is a social technique I adopted a few years ago. It keeps me from blurting out, “I am riddled with anxiety and my soul is the same shape as one of those broken boned, crab-person demons from American Horror Story. I have accomplished nothing. NOTHING!”
If you have social anxiety then you know all too well the niceties we engage in to hide our FOUL, WRETCHED SELVES. I have spewed out monologues of praises and bouquets to complete strangers because people have to like you if you say nice stuff about them. It’s basically science.
Unfortunately, for those of us who were didn’t make it aboard the Good Ship Normal Person, one of the caveats of anxiety is the inability to accept compliments. Perhaps you have trouble listening because you’re trying to stay ahead of the game and build your arsenal of amazing, life-affirming things to say. Let’s be honest, though: you are most likely focusing too hard on the time you said something shitty to a girl in 2010. You were thinking about your gross, nasty ass so intently that you didn’t really register ANYTHING in the conversation.
That leads to something like this:
The beauty of, “No, you!” is how simple it is. Just look what happens in the illustration when Margeret turns the compliment into a sassy NO, YOU:
It works for nearly all occasions. It did have worked for my solo brunch until my server made an unexpected move.
“No, really,” she said, “You’re such a badass for going to brunch alone!”
She doubled down.
I had to double down. I laughed and raised my glass again (I have but one signature move.)
“No, you’re such a badass for going to brunch alone.”
“Yeah,” she laughed, “It’s a little different if you work here.”
SHE WORKS THERE, JAS.
IT IS HER JOB TO COME HERE AND GIVE YOU FOOD AND COFFEE WITHOUT THE AID OF HER MOST TREASURED FRIENDS.
GOD, WHAT THE FLYING FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU ILLEGITIMATE THROBBING WASTE OF A HUMAN SACK OF FLUFF.
It was as if my inner town-cryer was beating against my skull, screaming,
REVERT TO SPEWING POSITIVE, LIFE AFFIRMING RIGAMAROLE.
TELL HER SHE IS PRETTY.
“Right! I meant for working brunch,” I started. “You should be proud. You’re a hero. You’re a brunch hero. You have great hair.”
She waved her hand at me as if to let the onslaught of wonderful gibberish fall right off her fingers.
“Oh, stop,” she said.
You know where this is going, right?
Because it went there.
No. You stop.