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The Five Types of People You See While Home for the Holidays

January 5, 2012

Running into old friends and frenemies is one of the best (and worst) things about being home for winter break. Sure, you’ll see your friends and loved ones—but you’ll also see those people you don’t bother keeping in touch with, usually for a reason. Unless you’re planning on staying cooped in your parent’s house, you have to be prepared to run into anyone at anytime. Thus, mastering the art of small talk pleasantries is crucial. If you’re home for long enough, you’ll run into all sorts of characters. Here’s a list of the five most memorable types of run-ins, that can leave you with a sense of nostalgia that borders on pain:

1. The Obnoxious Overachiever

This is the person you love to loathe. You can spot them from a mile away, most likely babbling about their 4.0 GPA and stellar grad school prospects. This is the type of person who owns an iPad—not to play Angry Birds, but to check their stocks. They will stop at nothing to lecture you on how awesome their life is going, and absolutely insist on whipping out their phone to show you pics of their supermodel girlfriend/boyfriend. You manage to nod and smile through gritted teeth. When they ask you what you’ve been up to, you manage to spit out something about your recent mission trip to Costa Rica. They seem unimpressed, and follow up by delivering a sermon about the summer they spent solving the AIDS crisis in Africa. Just as you are about to concede defeat, you remind yourself that they have a receding hairline, and then you feel better about yourself.

2. The Tragic Underachiever

This is the person with whom you no longer have anything in common. They dropped out of college after the first week and have no plans to return. You remember that they were a total riot in high school, but now they run with the weird townie crew. You happen to run into them randomly—let’s say at a gas station. You spot them from afar while filling up your car. You wave to them across the parking lot and shout their name, but they are not happy to see you. As you approach, you realize they are in the middle of some sort of drug deal transaction, which you have just called lots of unwanted attention to. Embarrassed, you get back in the car and drive off. Later, you hear that this same person works the midnight shift at Taco Bell and recently knocked up two girls, and then you feel better about yourself.

3. The One Who Got Away

This is the person who still looks damn fine. You crushed on them in high school, but nothing ever came of it. Now, years later, you can’t help but maintain a tiny little crush on them. This crush flairs up every time you bump into them. If you’re a couple drinks deep, this could be hazardous. You probably flirt too hard, even when it’s clear they’re not having any of it. You let it slip that you wish they had asked you to prom (luckily, you manage to hold your tongue about that sex dream you had about them a few months ago). Then they tell you that they have a girlfriend. You are devastated, and bitterly Facebook stalk her the next day. Her tagged photos reveal that she’s got frizzy hair and A cups, and then you feel—you guessed it—better about yourself. You continue to crush on this person for years to come…who knows, maybe they’ll be single by the time your 10-year reunion rolls around! (They won’t be.)

4. The One Who You Wish Would Get Away

This person, also known as “The Lingerer”, is all up in your grill. They are way too eager to see you, leaving you unable to tactfully remove yourself from the conversation. They eventually sense that you are trying to bail on them, and offer to buy you a drink. You hastily accept (“Jack and coke. No wait, just Jack…”), then woefully realize that you’re now locked in for another twenty minutes. Your eyes drift over this person’s shoulders while they’re rambling. You’re searching for someone—anyone—to rescue you. Finally, you escape by claiming that your friend Taylor just texted you and really needs you at that moment. Taylor is being hit on by total creeps, you tell The Lingerer, and you just have to go save Taylor or else what kind of friend would you be? The Lingerer lets you go, only to see you immediately walk in the opposite direction of where you just claimed you were heading. You now know that they know you were lying to them, and then you feel slightly shittier about yourself….but this feeling only lasts until you’ve finished the drink that they bought you.

5. The One You Hardly Recognize

This person has changed a lot since high school, especially in the looks department. They look nothing like their former self. You try to hide your shock. If they’ve taken a turn for the better, it’s a pleasant surprise. Maybe they were a total nerdbucket in grade school, but look pretty foxy these days. They’re no longer rocking head gear, their skin’s cleared up, and they walk with a little more swagger since dumping the back brace. You enjoy talking to this person; you wish them well, and mean it. You also enjoy talking to the other type of hardly-recognizable person—the former hottie who’s past their prime—but you enjoy this for different reasons. This person peaked during senior year, somewhere between homecoming and the prom afterparty. These days, the only thing that’s still peaking about them is their muffin-top (peaking out of a well-worn varsity jacket, that is). You take utter joy in the fact that this person, who once gloriously dominated the popular group, now looks ragged and frumpy. Bonus points if they are under 22, have children, and complain about the price of diapers. You wish them well, but don’t really mean it. You realize you’re kind of being an asshole, but then you remember that they once made fun of you in 7th grade gym class. So you think to yourself, “HAH, they’re not hot anymore!” and facetiously tell them you look forward to the next class reunion. And then you feel a whole lot freaking better about yourself. The end.

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