You schmooze, you lose

“Hello, welcome to SchmoozeTech, this is Randy, how may I help you?”

“Uh, yeah, hi. I think my schmoozing account has been frozen. Can you check it out for me?”

“Sure, sir, no problem. Let’s just call up your account information… Hmmm, I see. Well, Mr. Murray, it looks like your licence to schmooze has been suspended.”

“What? How? I’ve really been making an effort lately. I’ve been chit-chatting at parties instead of hanging out by the veggies and dip. I’ve been making eye contact. Last week, I was at a press event and I was greeting reporters and shaking hands…”

“Let’s see. Was that last Wednesday, sir?”


“Well, it says here you went up to a reporter and said, “Bonjour, Jean-François. It’s been a long time,” but you said it in French so it came out sounding like, “Bonjour, Jean-François. It’s been long johns.”

“My French isn’t that great but at least I was trying.”

“That’s fine, but it wasn’t Jean-François at all, was it?”


“It was a newspaper columnist who you recognized from his photo in the paper.”

“It was an honest mistake.”

“You’ve never actually met this person, have you?”

“He looked so familiar!”

“And then you fled to the hors d’oeuvres.”

“It was embarrassing!”

“Mr. Murray, I’m looking at your account history and I’m seeing multiple instances of awkward and inappropriate schmoozing.”

“It’s not my fault. Small talk is so hard!”

“The anecdote about the baked beans and airport security?”

“It was a good story.”

“At a funeral reception?”

“I was just trying to lighten the mood.”

“It says here there was food in your teeth the whole time.”

“Hey, someone should have told me about that.”

“In June 2010, you recited an entire Monty Python sketch to co-workers at an office birthday celebration.”

“Everybody loves Monty Python!”

“And you got it wrong.”

“I did?”

“On August 14, you called someone you had only recently met by their nickname, even though you had not yet been deemed nickname-worthy.”

“How on earth are you supposed to know when that is?”

“You got the nickname wrong too.”


“A muffed high-five on August 29, over-imbibing at a church function on September 6, an unfortunate trouser stain on September 15. Plus, your file has multiple accounts of you wandering up to groups of people and just standing there on the fringes waiting to join the conversation and then simply drifting off again, adding nothing to the proceedings but your own unsettling ghost-like presence.”

“In my defence, I consider myself a very good listener.”

“An ‘observer of the human condition,’ you’ve described yourself here in your file.”

“That’s right.”

“At SchmoozeTech, we call that a ‘loser.'”


“Tell me about your chronic inability to master the double-cheek kiss.”

“Look, I’ve been studying that. Most of the time people go to the right cheek first. I thought I had it figured out. But sometimes they go to the left. How are you supposed to know?”

“How many broken noses, sir?”

“[Sigh…] seven…”

“Bottom line, sir, is that your inept socializing skills have drained your schmoozing account.”

“But what can I do? I’ve got a big social schedule coming up: weddings, receptions, court depositions…”

“Well, I can issue you a temporary schmoozing licence, conditional on your improving your schmoozing skills.”

“How do I do that?”

“You can start by watching more sports. And keep up on celebrity gossip. For example, Katy Perry.”

“You mean Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey?”


“Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith?”


“Mathew Perry from ‘Friends’? Refrigerator Perry?”


“Halle Berry?”

“Sure, why not. Anyway, you’re all set, Mr. Murray. I’ve activated your temporary account. Good luck.”

“Thanks. Hey, by the way, don’t you think Halle Berry would be awesome at second base for the Red Sox, especially since she reminds me of my first girlfriend… well, not my actual girlfriend, since she didn’t realize she was my girlfriend at the time but I kept sending her letters anyway, but don’t you think?”

“Hmmm… awkward….”


This is a piece I wrote in 2010 and is still one of my favourites. The incident involving the misidentified newspaper columnist is, sadly, true. As is the trouble with kiss-kiss cheeks. And, well embarrassingly far too much of this, actually.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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43 Responses to You schmooze, you lose

  1. Sounds like my social life to a tee. My schmoozing license is permanently revoked!

  2. Ned's Blog says:

    If our exchange program happens, I think it’s best if we stay away from the double-cheek kiss…

  3. franhunne4u says:

    I never even applied for a schmoozing license, sometimes you just have to know that some things are not for you …

  4. pinklightsabre says:

    Ha, that is so cool. Reads like it could be today, I mean especially with the Joe Perry / Steve Perry combo! That’s some deft dialogue, yo’. You wear your awkwardness as Donovan sung, like heaven.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Some Inside Baseball: This is the piece I go to when I want to explain next-level humour writing. I was struggling to write the anecdote about the awkward encounter with the columnist and it was coming off as standard and not very funny self-deprecation. But the idea of me losing my licence to schmooze popped up. What if you actually had a licence to schmooze? I find the best ideas are when you push the figurative to the literal or to the extreme edges of meaning.

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Ah, that is very cool of you to share. From the sack of my hammock to yours, bro. Awkward abounds, wildebeest hip-hopping along the safari……….

  5. gavinkeenan says:

    You might be better trying to come across as “A Lovable Curmudgeon.” A little vague, standoffish and good for one adorably irreverent observation. Works wonders for me……………..But then again, I don’t have any friends.

  6. byebyebeer says:

    The awkward ghost hover is kind of my thing. Hope you got your license reinstated, but if not you’re in good company.

  7. Your pain is our pleasure.

  8. Paul says:

    Ahhhh yes – I thought it was just me who was incompetent in social situations. I’ve developed a work-around for this situation, but it requires a large enough gathering – in a small gathering I am still lost. In a large gathering you can spot the socially incompetent by just people watching for a few minutes – someone groups don’t open to admit, someone who goes from group to group being rebuffed at each, someone who hangs out by the hors d’oeurves table looking around frantically with jerky movements, someone who only greets others and is never greeted by anyone, someone wearing corduroy, etc. Then I walk up and introduce myself and the poor soul is so surprised and happy that we chat for the rest of the evening – in a large enough group, all the while picking off other outliers. Soon we have a group that has been rejected by all other groups – and we are all quite chuffed that we are now fitting in – and choose to ignore the fact that we are fitting in because we don’t fit in. Such is life.

  9. Bun Karyudo says:

    Cheek kisses are tough. I travel to Holland from time to time, and the Dutch cheek kiss is something I still have no idea how to respond to properly. I usually just stand there, my hands clenched in front of me and my eyes tightly closed, wishing that the whole thing was over.

  10. List of X says:

    A great piece, Ross! But there is, actually, a difference between 2010 and 2016 – today, everyone has a smartphone and it provides an excellent cover for a situation where you have no one to talk to (or no courage to walk up and talk to) – you just scroll whatever Pokemonstagram feed on it and it’s suddenly not awkward at all to tune out and not talk to anyone. If anything, it’s awkward for Jean Pierre or what’s his name when he tries to talk to you.

  11. (sniff, sniff) I can smell the introversion from HERE.

    Meanwhile, yesterday I stood on the shores of the Straits of Juan de Fuca while I chatted up three Phoenix tourists. We all stared north across the water at harbor seals and Canadians. Well, it was more implied Canadians, you can’t really get a good bead on them from there what with all the wind-whipped mist and the lumber growing all over everything.

    That’s your problem, you can’t see the forest for the breeze.

  12. I hate shmoozing… thank goodness for smartphones and bathrooms otherwise I’d never survive social gatherings. Also, I have a shmoozepro for a husband so I can just hover next to him and not worry about talking.

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