The Overly Political Guy
You spot potato salad out on the table and rush to load up. As you’re spooning the potato salad onto your paper plate, Eric from down the street begins making small talk about the various dishes on the table. After 30 seconds of commenting on the spread, Eric then attempts to subtly bait you into a political discussion. When you provide a neutral response to diffuse a potentially uncomfortable situation, Eric interprets your neutrality as approval. Now that Eric believes you’re on his political side, you’re stuck holding your plate while he babbles about immigration and taxes a little too loudly.
The Nosey Neighbor
When your one-sided discussion with Eric finally trails off, you find an open lawn chair and sit down to start eating. Unfortunately, your neighbor Marsha decides to sit next to you and ask how you feel about the baked beans. “I like them, they have a bit of a bite to them,” you reply. Marsha, however, does not like the baked beans, claiming that they are too spicy and make her poor, whiny eyes water. To make matters worse, Marsha begins gossiping about how the host’s newest fence might be against the HOA rules, in addition to speculating on how the host was able to afford a brand new Lexus. While Marsha’s attention to detail is impressive, you’re not fazed by her nosey nature. You’ve been reading Marsha’s rants on the neighborhood’s Facebook page for the last year, so you expect nothing less.
When you’re finished eating, you decide to stick your feet in the pool to cool off without getting your hair wet. While a few neighborhood children are playing together in the pool, they are staying relatively far away from all of the adults sitting around the edge. Just when you’re starting to relax (away from Marsha and her gossip), a large, middle-aged man suddenly cannon-balls into the pool, splashing everyone sitting nearby. While he believes he is the world’s greatest comedian and finds it hilarious that your mascara starts running down your face, the nearby adults placate the clown with a halfhearted laugh before returning to their conversations that he abrasively interrupted.
The Unhappily Married Couple
As you’re drying off, you overhear your acquaintances Tim and Nancy in the middle of what has the potential to be an explosive argument. From what you can hear, it seems as though Tim, who’s currently on his fifth Miller Lite, is leaving on a golfing trip with “the boys” next weekend, which Nancy is not pleased with. You watch as Tim becomes annoyed with Nancy’s nagging, pulling his phone out of his pocket to tune her out. This was the wrong move for Tim, however, as Nancy begins berating him about “always being on his stupid phone” and texting his receptionist. As you continue to eavesdrop, you wonder if nosey Marsha has any inside scoop on their marital woes that could help fill in the gaps.
While the Tim and Nancy saga is heating up and becoming increasingly awkward for onlookers, you direct your attention to the grill, where three dads in baseball caps are standing proudly with beer and spatulas in hand. Their conversations seem to be lighthearted and surface-level, unlike other conversations you’ve encountered throughout the afternoon. They soon prove themselves to be the most laidback guests at the barbecue, calmly discussing their newest bass fishing gear, the price of gas, and how they don’t understand why their teenage daughters are always using TikTok. Since they seem like a harmless bunch, you bring a lawn chair near the grill, hoping to work your way into their conversation and escape the chaos by the pool. If you’re lucky, you might even be one of the first guests to snag a hotdog.