Serving dishes

Once, while prepping for an engagement party I hosted for my friends, I started to get my serving dishes out since we had a lot of food. One of our friends who was helping us prep (and who also happens to be a best-selling author) said, “Chris, I just saw you pull all these beautiful, big serving dishes out of nowhere. It makes me feel like I haven’t really grown up yet.”

You, too, can experience the rush and thrill of making someone else feel small! Serving dishes will do the trick. What you fill the serving dishes with is probably kind of important too, but even spaghetti and Prego will look elegant when you put it on a classy plate. Watch out for more Imprecipes on HTSI though, and you’ll impress people with both your food and your taste in chinaware.

   Protip: make sure to top all of your dishes with something green. A basil sprig, chopped parsley, a scoop of green tea ice cream - anything will do. (   img src   )

Protip: make sure to top all of your dishes with something green. A basil sprig, chopped parsley, a scoop of green tea ice cream - anything will do. (img src)

You might be wondering if I’m going to give you advice on where to find serving dishes and which ones to buy. If you haven’t noticed, I like to use “you might be wondering” or “the obvious next question” segues. Verbalizing our lazy writing habits is what makes this blog marginally funny. Okay I am really going to give you some advice now.

If you’re just dipping your feet in and just want to try out a serving dish or two before getting too deep, then the versatile shape of this White Pasta Serving Bowl from World Market is perfect for you. I know the name makes it sound like it’s for “White Pasta” specifically, but you could really use it for any race of pasta. Also great for: salads, chicken wings, giant bowls of shaved ice - pretty much anything but soup

If you serve a lot of salads, get a big salad bowl. No brainer. These can also typically hold a high volume of stuff, because they are deep and cavernous, so you can substitute in your salad bowl for when your white pasta bowl isn’t big enough. It might not look quite as elegant or neat, but it’s probably still more impressive than using 3 separate dinner plates to hold one packet of Shin Ramen.

Cheese boards are not even a little bit versatile. They hold cheese and bread, and maybe some dried fruit. Oh, and charcuterie. That’s a fun word to say. You could maybe fill tiny little jars with jam or olive tapenade or something. The nice thing about the slate cheese boards (though wooden cheese boards are nice, too) is that you can use some chalk, plus your new handwriting, to further impress.

Also, no, this was not a sponsored post by World Market. If only we were big enough to have the option to sell out.

Vocabulary

Having a good vocabulary is a very dangerous impressiveness tactic. The risk is much higher than the reward. But, you know, you only live once and other Drake lyrics, so let’s talk about it anyway.

How can it go wrong?

  1. You use the word incorrectly. Usually people who notice are polite and don’t say anything. They just judge you silently.

  2. You pronounce it incorrectly. People are generally more vocal with this one. One time, I pronounced “divisive” with a z sound instead of like “device” and a white guy asked me if English was my first language. I told him I scored a 770 on my SAT critical reading and writing. That’s right, I just told you my SAT scores because I tell true stories. Apparently, I’m also shameless.

  3. You pronounce and use the word correctly, but force it. This kid I went to highschool with said everything was a plethora of somethings. I don’t know what to say about this one. People definitely notice and I think generally find it annoying.

Basically what I’m saying is learn how to use pronunciation guides (or use the little speaker button when you google words), learn definitions, and then make it seem effortless. Easy. Actually, I just googled “antecedent” and it doesn’t have the little speaker, so yeah, learn pronunciation guides or risk ridicule.

So how do you actually learn new words? I’ll write about that some other time. For now, you’ll just have make do with some words that have come up in my conversations recently.

Malapropism (noun): the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, “dance a flamingo ” (instead of flamenco).

This is great for making fun of people on two levels. I’m not cruel, I swear.

Gauche (adjective): lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward.

It also means left (the opposite of right) in French. You can drop that fact any time someone else uses this word. It’ll be impressive to anyone around who hasn’t taken first year French.

Panoply (noun): a complete or impressive collection of things; a splendid display.

Basically our blog.

Insouciance (noun): casual lack of concern; indifference.

It’s like laziness, but cool. Also how I try to dress. Nothing is cooler than not caring.

Also, I know you’ve been wondering this since you read it earlier - what did I score on math? I guess you’ll have to wait on a math-related blog post that also has an SAT score-related anecdote.

OTF: DIY & Dunning-Kruger

Other Things Friday is our blandly named series for non-how-to content that we publish on Fridays. You probably figured that out from the name.

Most people might think that I support the DIY movement, perhaps because answering “Hey, where’d you get that?” with “I made it myself!” seems impressive.

Before I address that misconception, let me tell you about something called the Dunning-Kruger effect. For those of you who have never heard of this psychological phenomenon before, the gist of it is this: highly skilled people think they are less skilled than they actually are, and unskilled people delusionally think they are exceptionally badass. This is because highly skilled people assume that tasks that are easy for them must be easy for others, and because unskilled people have no context for how to gauge their own abilities, since they are unskilled. They are also unable to recognize high levels of skill in others. Basically, they don’t know stuff and are dumb.

How does this apply to DIY? My opinion is this: don’t DIY unless you think you suck at something. If you think you’re really good at something, unless you’re some sort of prodigy or master craftsman, you’re probably kind of bad at it. And the best way to totally kill your impressiveness game is to think you’re better at something than you actually are. Honesty moment: I see a lot of stuff on Pinterest that makes me insanely judgmental.

Now, I’ll caveat all of that with this: depending on who you hang out with, maybe none of your friends will actually recognize your inaptitude either. Theoretically, you might be in the clear even if you suck. And on the flip side, if you took Angelo’s advice to pick up a new hobby and have become somewhat competent, then yes. It is impressive to say “Oh gosh golly no, it’s not Gucci - I made this dress myself!” or “Do you like my new dog statue? I made him in my Advanced Sculpture adult learning class. His name is Pat!”

  I don’t ONLY watch singing shows. (   img src   )

I don’t ONLY watch singing shows. (img src)

On a scale of 1-10, how flamingly insecure have I made you through this post? Let us know! Comments and emails to info@howtoseemimpressive.com both work.

Be a local somewhere

Full disclosure: this one requires kind of a lot of effort. You have to actually frequent the same location over and over again, on the same days, so you see the same people. You have to initiate charming and memorable conversation with the staff, drawing from your vast well of learned impressive-osity. But if you do this right, it can have really "outsized returns" in the form of free food. Also, you will probably feel really cool.

“But Chris, how do I choose somewhere to frequent?” is the obvious next question. Being able to walk into a restaurant or bar where everyone recognizes you and knows your name can either be impressive or embarrassing (or just like Cheers! - Angelo). Here are some questionably helpful guidelines! I’ve also included some San Franciscan examples, to subtly show off my good taste in food.

Acceptable

  • Authentic “ethnic” cuisine. The owners might never learn your name but will smile enthusiastically every time they see you. Also, when you take your “non-ethnic” friends, they’ll be super impressed with your worldliness. Bonus points if you speak the language. Ex) House of Pancakes. It’s not a breakfast restaurant.

  • Moderately-priced, slightly upscale American appropriations of “ethnic” cuisine. Not expensive enough to make people think you’re a frivolous spender, but just classy enough to care about things like locally sourced ingredients and unusual flavor combinations. Ex) Bougie Mexican, like Nopalito and Padrecito.

  • Coffee shops that are not Starbucks, Peet’s, or Coffee Bean.

  • Bars that serve quality alcohol. I have no expertise in actually recognizing quality alcohol, but I have a lot of expertise in internalizing snarky comments that my coworkers make about mediocre whiskey and watery beer. Ex) Tradition.

  • Quality dessert locations. This is the category that my location-where-I-am-a-local is in. I recognize how awkward that sentence was, and have no desire to try fixing it. Ex) The Ice Cream Bar. I get free waffle cone pieces and a pretty steady discount on their wildly expensive floats.

Not Acceptable

  • Bad food.

  • Applebee’s, T.G.I. Friday’s, Cheesecake Factory, Hometown Buffet, or any other American Chain Restaurant Abomination (ACRA). I realize this may eliminate a vast majority of the US from participating.

  • Starbucks, Peet’s, or Coffee Bean.

Questionable

  • Large multi-national fast food chains. I feel like they’re kind of enjoying a nostalgic resurgence - who doesn’t crave McDonald’s fries? Fun fact: the reason they are so delicious is that when McDonald’s switched to using vegetable oil, they added flavoring to make the fries taste like they were still being cooked in beef tallow.


This tip is especially effective to impress out-of-town guests, because it really makes you look like you’ve become a native of whatever city you’re living in. It’s way impressive to seem like a real New Yorker or San Franciscan or Chicagoan or Bostonian or Bakersfieldian or Ottowan.

Periodicals

So at some point, we are going to write more about reading. Yeah, reading is still a thing even though Netflix exists. I mean, you are reading this blog. Anyway, there’s a ton of stuff to read, saying you read periodicals makes you sound super impressive, or maybe like you live in a library. Either way, good.

What’s a periodical, you might ask? It’s anything published on a regular basis with new content - newspapers, magazines, academic and literary journals, you know, that stuff. No one is impressed when you say you read XXL, probably because they think you are talking about your shirt or Slurpee size and they don't even know it's a magazine. Instead, reference it as a hip-hop music and culture periodical. That’ll really bring the house down or whatever happens when people are impressed.

Okay, recommendations:

Any print newspaper

  Bonus points for pink pages ( img src )

Bonus points for pink pages (img src)

I mean, I know that most people, and pretty much everyone reading this blog, actually get their news from a combination of the Daily Show and Facebook. Obviously, the newspaper isn’t actually for getting news. No, it’s for carrying on the outside of your bag so when people see you at the coffee shop or during your morning commute, they think you are learned and informed. Any newspaper will do - the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, your local print newspaper if it still exists, your kid’s high school paper, whatever.

The New Yorker or equivalent

  The subject of this cover has nothing to do with this blog ( img src )

The subject of this cover has nothing to do with this blog (img src)

I actually have no idea where to buy the New Yorker. What’s a bookstore? Anyway, others in this category: The Economist, and probably a ton of other super sophisticated periodicals (see? Better than “magazines”) that I don’t know about.

Hipster/art magazines

  It's like the paper version of a hipster Instagram feed ( img src )

It's like the paper version of a hipster Instagram feed (img src)

These are the periodicals that you find in a store where when you walk out, you think to yourself, “What do they even sell? How is that store still open? Is it a drug front?” The periodicals probably have names you've never heard of and that have nothing to do with their subject matter, like The Green Soccer Journal or The New Order

Highlights for Children

  It's not just for when you wait at the dentist's office ( img src )

It's not just for when you wait at the dentist's office (img src)

It’s the best magazine ever for finding pictures of things inside of another picture of things. Plus, and I didn’t know this as a child, they have short stories. Any periodical with short stories is impressive, probably.

I just realized I didn’t explain what you are supposed to do with these periodicals. Here are suggestions in increasing order of importance:

3. Read them, then reference you reading them in conversation.

2. Take pictures of you pretending to read them and put them on social media. Make sure the cover is visible.

1. Leave them on your coffee table/dining nook/desk/anywhere people can see them.