Even if there’s someone I have a lot in common with, nervousness usually leads me to flub it badly. I make wooden conversation, suddenly unable to seem interested or interesting, before desperately falling back on bad jokes and verbal fireworks to desperately impress how fun and smart I am.

It never works.

Doesn’t help that some of my material is a bit cerebral.

When talking about a mutual acquaintance who was known for being petty and superficial, I once quipped “If Stacie was any shallower, she’d be a hill.” I thought it was a graceful and hilarious metaphor.

I was wrong. “…what?” the girl said.

“You know, we say someone is shallow…like they’re a pool of water,” I said desperately as every last bit of humor drained out of the room. “If a pond gets to zero…shallowability…it’s a field. If it gets negative…shallowability…then it’s a hill…!”

“I don’t get it.”