I met Alex 10 years ago.
When I realised I was punching above my weight, I proposed. We married, had kids, and argued over which traits they picked up from us (good looks and playfulness – Alex; bad eyesight and skin allergies – me).
We shared a car, moved house, and argued over which way to hang toilet paper.
We did the things married people do. She was my woman. I didn’t need any more in my life.
But that all changed when we moved to California.
Suddenly other women were on the scene. Maybe it was just a natural reaction to all the sunshine – some people pick up sun tans, others pick up women.
I’m talking about Alex here.
In the park, at the library, museums, cafes, supermarkets… she picks up American and expat mum friends left, right and centre. I go online and see all the new Facebook friends she has. I get home from work and she tells me how many new numbers she’s got that day.
In the past 6 months, I’ve watched Alex become the world’s best pickup artist. And although she’s not shared her secrets with me, I’ve seen enough to draw my own conclusions.
So here it is: my take on how to meet women in Silicon Valley.
1. Exploit your children. Arm your kids with toys and send them across the playground with the express instruction to play with another child. If your kid doesn’t comply, keep a tube of bubbles in reserve so you can randomly blow a few around. Bubbles are like crack cocaine for kids – they can’t get enough of them. It’s a guaranteed friendship frenzy. Kids playing together gives you a prime opportunity to strike up a conversation with their nearby mum.
2. Prey on the stupidity of others. Keep your eyes peeled for kids in precarious situations – hanging off climbing frames with their feet, riding their bike blindfolded… that special brand of stupid. The moment they fall on their face, be the first one on the scene to pick them up off the floor. That immediate emergency response means you’ll not only make a new friend when mum arrives, but she’ll owe you a coffee too.
3. Use God. Got one you’re fond of? Great. Stick him (or her) in your back pocket and get yourself down to the nearest place of worship. A shared faith is a great way to meet people. I have this theory that Alex works the God circuit, and she’s secretly a Jewish Presbyterian Greek Orthodox Gospel Buddhist.
4. Tune in. Hear someone with a non-American accent asking a shop assistant where the eggs are? Swoop in with an accent of your own, and tell them where to go. In a nice way, that is. Literally, give them directions. And while you do it, drop in some side comments about American supermarkets being the most confusing places on earth. Expats bond over foreign weirdness.
5. Say yes. To everything and everyone. Can you read? Join a book group. Speak? Find a choir. Hell, if you can breathe then go to a Meetup for free diving enthusiasts. Just say yes to everything. Worry about being found out later.
There you have it. Hopefully these tips will come in useful to other expats out there looking to make friends.
Disclaimer: if you’re reading this and you’re a twenty-something single man looking to meet women for romance, proceed with caution. I suspect one or two of these tips may get you locked up in the process.