Hey. I tried 😂
Last week, I attended my first ever family reunion. I’ve gathered with extended family in the past, but this was something else entirely. Over 180 of my family members from all over the country, many of whom I’d never met, converged in Little Rock to celebrate our bloodline. At one point, my mom mentioned that we needed to hurry downtown so we could “pick up our information packets before registration closes.” I knew right then that this thing was a full-on operation.
My cousin Fred has spent countless hours tracing our family tree, our lineage as far back as possible. At one point during the weekend, we gathered around his computer, marveling at his work. He gave us the grand tour of our family, taking us to the late 1700s. And then, the tree just stopped.
“Oh, gotcha. So, you’re still working on this branch?” I asked.
“No. That’s as far back as it goes on the black side of our family.”
I was stunned. Fred explained that we can trace “the white side” of our family back a long ways, but the black side abruptly ends because of slavery. Black people weren’t considered people. They were livestock. To trace those ancestors, we’d have to find out who owned them last and hope those slave-owners retained those records. Yeah. And to add to the difficulty, only about 15 percent of former slaves took their last slave owner’s surname.
That was tough for me to process.
Despite this, the weekend was full of love. There was a vibrant discussion about the importance of generational wealth and our responsibility to help each other realize our dreams so we can pass on a better future to the next generation.
I left the weekend filled with hope and a renewed commitment to help each new branch of our tree, be stronger than the last.
Small Talk. They say it’s the social lubricant that leads to success. I mean, sure yeah, that’s great and all, but for me, small talk induces diarrhea.
Whenever I walk into a room full of strangers, you can go ahead and queue the incontinence. And it comes on fast, like the fizzy, bubbling innards of a paper mache volcano. All it takes is a firm handshake from someone in a collared button down. “So, Justin, what do you do?”
I stiffen, eyes darting inside my skull.
My eyes find the nearest bathroom.
“I…doo doo. I doo doo…”
And I dart off, leaving a plume of dust and a fartish-smelling stench circling the poor sap who just politely shook my hand.
Like Michael Jackson suggested, I started by taking a hard look at the man in the mirror. I asked him, “do you really want to spend your thirties, constantly in danger of shitting your pants at the sight of another breathing human person?”
At first I answered yes. But after a few slaps to my own brown face, I got my answer closer to, “Well, I guess no but maybe holy shit, okay fine.”
So, I created my own series of tactics, designed to eliminate social anxiety forever. Or make it slightly more tolerable then excruciating.
You should know that this advanced technology is currently still in Beta. But I’ve definitely started seeing results. You can use these tools at any social event anywhere on Earth:
- OPEN YOUR EYES AS WIDE AS POSSIBLE AND STARE AT YOUR CONVERSATION PARTNER AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BLINK. Science says humans denote strength in good eye contact. This will up your game. I’ve found this strategy to be extremely effective…that is, if your goal is to get everyone in a fifteen foot radius to slowly back away.
- STAND NEAR A GROUP OF EXTRA COOL LOOKING PEOPLE, SILENTLY FART TWICE, AND LEAVE. This tactic is best if you see an exclusive circle of people you wish you were cool enough to talk to. You’ll break up their little club and open up the room. Bonus points if you eat red meat the day prior.
- WHILE CONVERSING, SLOWLY SQUEEZE YOUR KAGEL MUSCLES TOGETHER TO THE BEAT OF NSYNC’S BYE BYE BYE Because you’re doing this in secret, you now have superior knowledge over your partner, which gives you the upper hand. This boosts self esteem. If you play your cards right, you might even view yourself as normal.
I’m still testing these out, but I encourage you to try these at your next networking event. Because if you can’t muster the strength to talk to people, these tools will at least get people talking about you.
I enjoy kicking my own ass. It all started around ’93.
I grew up a lonely child, so I decided to do something about it. I broke new ground in the lost art of indoor self-entertainment, mainly due to my parent’s discouragement to venture outdoors “because Niggas be poppin’ glocks,” a phrase which I’m still hoping someone will kindly decipher.
After school, I’d book it upstairs, jam Mortal Combat in my Sega Genesis, fire up two-player mode and declare war on myself. I’d launch a flashy mêlée of brute-force attacks, pummeling my analog opponent within an inch of its life, pause it, scoop up the other controller and proceed to rip out the spinal cord of my previous fighter. The cycle would continue for longer than I’d care to admit on the internet.
Because I’d melt with embarrassment if my wife ever found me playing 8-bit Mortal Combat, video games aren’t an option these days. So I’m always scheming for ways to make life harder on myself. Because I love it when things are unbearable.
So I decided the best way to nearly sink my sanity was to go Paleo.
Cheatsheet: You eliminate all added sugar from your diet and HOLY F PROCESSED SUGAR is in everything. I’ve been told they’ve started adding it to breastmilk. The goal is to eat like a Caveperson. The trick is simply to brainwash yourself to feel satisfied only feasting on lean meats, vegetables, and fruit, all of which is drowned in coconut oil. You eat only what our prehistoric ancestors could find. But warning, this diet may cause unibrows and offers to star in Geico commercials.
If you’ve been around me longer than a meal period, you’d know this could possibly the be the greatest challenge of my life. I usually dine on a strict, diverse diet of breads, various cheeses, and cheeses melted on various breads. I’ve been told I eat like a trashcan.
So far, everything’s going great. It’s been two weeks and I’ve only cried out to the heavens in pain, like, nine or ten times. I’ve lost a little over eight pounds so far. Despite my taste buds threatening to vote Republican, I must say I’ve never felt better.
But the cravings. Oh sweet mother of Mary, the cravings. Although I was born sans-uterus and haven’t the slightest idea of what I’m talking about, I can only describe these bastard-like cravings as late-term, emergency pregnancy contractions. The other night I was doing the dishes like the good husband that I am, when OHMYHOLYFUCKWHATISHAPPENING. I clenched my stomach and dropped to the ground, writhing in torment.
My eyes rolled to the back of my head, as my neck twisted around backwards, voice dropping six octaves in an instant.
GIVE ME SUGAR. I NEED. I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEED
But no one else was there, so I can’t verify if that’s exactly what happened. But that’s what it felt like. And then a friend of mine, also in the paleo trenches, texted me a miracle: a recipe for paleo ice-cream.
That’s right y’all. Fake ice cream. That’s how desperate I was. I ripped the blender from the way way back of the cabinet, and proceeded to throw copious amounts of cocoa powder at it. I drizzled a full bottle of honey with gobs and gobs of chunky coconut milk and VROOM. VROOM. I started this at, like, 1 am.
As it blended, my mouth was biting at thin air. Soon, I’d have Ice Cream. LEGAL Ice Cream.
I took a final glance at the recipe and my heart sank. In my blind sugar rage, I failed to see the most important instruction:
Freeze for 4-6 hours or until solid as fuck.
I wept. No ice cream tonight.
But the great part: Ice Cream for Breakfast.