There's nothing better than when the boys are back in town. Thin Lizzy really nailed that shit. And there's no bigger "the boys are back in town" night on the calendar every year than Thanksgiving Eve.
You're back home. You hit up the one bar in your little town with the fellas. You're reliving the glory days and retelling all the same old stories. Like the one about how you had that pass go right through your hands in the end zone at the end of the state semifinals, your team lost and nobody ever forgave you for it ever again. You know, those classic old stories that everybody loves to tell.
But while you're reliving those glory days with everybody back home, you're also going to run into a few characters who you totally forgot about. People who you haven't seen in years, and don't really remember seeing them much even when you were in high school together. You look around and all of a sudden you realize you're standing alone, you have a full beer, and they're coming your direction. You're about to get trapped in a conversation that you desperately aren't ready for.
So I'm here to navigate you through this situation right now with a masterclass in small talk.
For starters, there is a good chance you don't remember this person's name. And honestly, if you're not 100% certain of it then you shouldn't even try. If you think he might be Jason but you forget maybe he's a Justin, just don't even go for it. The best way to start these conversations is always with a simple, "What's going on, brother". Everybody loves to be called brother. It instantly makes you feel connected, and there's no way to take it as a slight. Buddy, pal, man. All of those put out the idea that you don't know this guy's name. But brother always gets the job done.
Now conventional thinking would lead you to believe you'd ask something along the lines of where that person is living nowadays. I'm urging you as strongly as possible to avoid that question at all costs. Because 1) the less you know, the better. And 2) if it turns out you guys are living in the same area then you are fucked and this conversation is never ending. So just keep it simple with a "so what are you up to these days?".
Immediately upon asking the question, you instantly need to start finding your exit out of the conversation. You don't care about his answer, but you need to at least feign a little interest. So as he's going on, just mix in a few generic "oh dude, that's sick" his way. Enough to make it seem like you care, but not too much to make it seem like you're patronizing. Now if he follows it up by asking about what you're up to, just stick to the basics. Give as little detail as possible. Because again, the less they know the better. The fewer details you give, the fewer follow up questions that can come up.
At this point, you're hopefully about to hit an awkward lull in the conversation. You both realize you don't actually have anything to talk about. So this is where you set up your smooth and graceful exit from the conversation. You hit them with the "everyone all good back home?". Again, you don't really give a shit about the answer. But this is important because between them explaining what they do for work and then telling you about the family, that should give you enough time to finish your drink.
Once your drink is finished, you're in the clear. There's your exit ticket. You perfectly orchestrated yourself to this spot without it feeling rushed or forced. Just an organic way to end a conversation. "Well hey, man, great catching up but I gotta go grab another drink". This is also typically where you'd mix in a "we should totally get together sometime" as well. But that's always a risky move. Because for starters, most people know the "we should get together sometime" is such a bullshit line. Nobody ever actually means it, and you never actually end up getting together. But some people take it too seriously and then you get forced into exchanging numbers at the end of the conversation. You want to avoid that as best as possible. Which is where the final move comes into play you.
You want to lay on a layer of sincerity. That's why you asked earlier in the conversation about how everybody is doing at home. Because as long as everyone is good, you can sneak in a "tell your folks I said hi" at the end there. Now they think you actually care, and they won't be so quick to feel the need to exchange numbers to get together sometime.
It may have taken a few minutes out of your night, but now you're out of that situation entirely without anything lingering the rest of the way. Measure twice, cut once. Godspeed out there tonight, boys.