I hate starting conversations with people I don’t know. Sometimes I practice talking to strangers by using various ice breakers I’ve memorized. I’ve learned that a complement or a tasteful anecdote work well and inquiries like, “Geez, doesn’t your job suck?” don’t get me so far. Dropping fake names like Shakira Shakira or describing my recent colonic have had mixed results.
Most of the time, I don’t practice talking to strangers because I don’t like talking to strangers. Instead I work very hard at mastering the art of sending out powerful brain signals into the atmosphere. Most of the time these brain signals say things like “Please talk to me. Harden criminals and people more socially awkward than I need not reply.”
I went to Koh Lanta right after saying goodbye to my parents and not long after saying goodbye to my site. This wasn’t the best state of mind to embark on a solo beach journey, but fantasies of bronzed skin and beachside beers kept my spirits lifted.
I managed to make a friend my first day out due to some successful brain signaling. The second day I made a couple more friends by actually striking up a conversation with some girls sitting next to me. I considered opening with “I couldn’t help but overhear your intensely personal conversation about intensely personal things and I would like actually participate in this conversation instead of continuing to pretend like I’m not listening,” but I found that a simple, “So, where are you from?” sufficed. Witty no, effective yes.
Despite my social successes, the days on the beach left me feeling lonely. I blame two things. One: the rain. My precious, lovely rain turned on me and poured all over the beaches, forcing all to retreat indoors for long listless afternoons. Two: the lack of people. The island was dead, which was awesome for scoring beach chairs and not awesome for socializing after sunset.
Loneliness aside I still enjoyed myself. I spent all clear sky hours on the beach tanning, swimming, reading and chatting. But come check out time I was oh so ready to get off the island.
A deep-set sunburn, a mysterious swelling lip situation and a horribly embarrassing moment that involved me getting knocked over by a wave, rolling all the way to shore and later emerging a wild sand beast with a very askew bikini, left me feeling like this island had just chewed up and spit out.