How To Talk To Girls At Parties by Neil Gaiman, 2006
The magic trick:
Finding humor in the gap between expectations and reality
This story, for any of its heavier possible meanings, made me laugh first and foremost. It is a funny premise. Even if it’s obvious and you see it coming from a mile away, you will laugh, I guarantee.
The essence of the joke is the setup of very normal expectations for a party. The narrator is a teenaged boy nervous about interacting with strange and intimidating girls. The reality of the party, of course, is far stranger than anything he could have anticipated. The humor relies on the overlap between those two things. The narrator is slow to understand the situation, so that we have him acting and talking in a way you’d expect for the original party scenario even as it’s clearly nothing like the normal party scenario. It’s funny, trust me. And that’s quite a trick on Gaiman’s part.
“Are you from around here?” I asked her.
She shook her head. She wore a low-cut silvery top, and I tried not to stare at the swell of her breasts.
I said, “What’s your name? I’m Enn.”
“Wain’s Wain,” she said, or something that sounded like it. “I’m a second.”
“That’s uh. That’s a different name.”
She fixed me with huge, liquid eyes.
“It indicates that my progenitor was also Wain, and that I am obliged to report back to her. I may not breed.”
“Ah. Well. Bit early for that anyway, isn’t it?”
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