How to make friends and influence weirdos

When you’re removed from the forced socialisation that university provides, and if your work doesn’t abound with people who enjoy fleas and raw meat, finding new friends can be difficult.

Like a werewolf who has slaughtered yet another bunch of chickens, I’ve had to move cities again.

alex walls idealog columnist​I’ve landed in Sydney, and, much like the aforementioned werewolf, the first weeks involve the setting up of a new life: new bank account, new identity, new friends.

The first two are generally easy, provided your Lycanthrope Network is operating in the city of choice, but the latter can be difficult; when you’re removed from the forced socialisation that university provides, and if your work doesn’t abound with people who enjoy fleas and raw meat, finding new friends can be difficult. 

Advice is rampant on the internet, from the very unhelpful ‘go to a bar’ to the much more successful ‘join clubs and groups of your interests’.

Lucky for me, I appear to have the friends-in-Sydney dilemma locked down. While staying at a youth hostel a while back, I met Sid, who was 77 and couldn’t type, he said, and so asked me in a doddering tone for help.  With a glow of conscious do-gooding, I agreed and was promptly handed an entire A4 page of dense text while Sid tootled off to make a cup of tea.

Once finished, I read it back and felt the cold hand of creepiness, well, creep over me – the ad was for an ‘Asian female student’ to have an ‘outback adventure’ with Sid.  Applicants with girlfriends weren’t to worry because Sid’s van (yep, VAN) slept four.  When I hesitatingly asked Sid about this, he whispered that his much younger girlfriend was “bisexual and got bored.”  I’m surprised my shudder didn’t register on the Richter scale.

Visions of Wolfcreek and poor tourists hoping for an Outback Adventure and ending up on Sid’s Shady Safari arose in my mind and I ended up directing Sid to the front desk for help, of many different kinds.

While Sid and I didn’t have what I’d necessarily call a ‘strong’, ‘deep’ or even ‘actual’ friendship, I have been spurred on in my friend-making efforts by the desperate desire to meet someone – anyone – else and I’ve joined various groups to set the wheels in motion.

Here’s just hoping Sid doesn’t enjoy poetry slams…

Alex Walls is a New Zealand journalist currently in Sydney. Follow her @lxwalls.