1. Arrive at the party full of expectation and excitement. Ah, a party! What mischief awaits!
2. Realise suddenly that the only person you actually know at the party has not yet arrived.
3. Activate emergency people-avoidance procedures.
4. Create a random path throughout the house of walking and smiling. Whatever you do, do not repeat your pattern.
5. Go to the bathroom, which hopefully has a long queue. You are allowed to be alone while queueing. No one is expected to have a friend while queuing. It is a safe place.
6. When you reach the front of the queue, pretend to have to listen to an important call and wave people ahead of you at the queue to maximise your queueing time.
7. After four minutes, exit the toilet, and continue randomly walking. Walk into a room, step up on tip-toe, and look around with a concerned expression, as if searching for someone. Shake your head, leave that room, and repeat.
8. Go outside to "get something you left in the car". (Note: You do not really need to have a car.)
9. Text endlessly. (Note: You do not really need to be texting.)
10. Make a phone call – or a fake phone call – in which you laugh a lot. "Ha, ha!" others will think. "What a jolly, confident person with lots of friends!"
11. Avoid eye contact by rummaging through your purse and/or pockets.
12. Pick out a crumpled receipt from your purse and/or pocket.
13. Uncrumple it, look at it, and furrow your brow.
14. Place it back in your pocket and/or purse.
15. Repeat with a pen. Is there something written on the side of the pen? You'll have to look at it for a long time to find out.
16. Look at the back of your hand with great interest and concern. You don't have to talk to anyone at a party if you're looking at your hand with concern. It's a rule.
17. If someone speaks to you, say, "Oh, sorry, I think I just saw my friend John! I'll be right back." Flee the room in search of "John", never to return.
18. If there is a garden, walk to the end of it. You're just exploring, because you do love gardens, and that's a perfectly normal thing to do at a party by oneself.
19. Go to the kitchen.
20. Open the fridge.
21. If someone asks if you're looking for something, say, "Oh I put my beer in here but John must have finished it off! Ha! Ha! That old louse."
22. Continue laughing and exit the kitchen, never to return.
23. Stand directly between two sets of friends so that each set assumes you belong to the other one.
24. If there is a bar, stand at it. If a bartender asks if you've been served, say you have, even if you haven't. Make yourself appear to be both invisible and actively waiting for a drink.
25. If there is just a table full of drinks, go and choose the tiniest cup, fill it with a small amount of alcohol, begin walking away from the table, finish your drink, turn around, and return to the table of drinks for a refill.
27. Take one pretzel, and eat it.
28. Take a second pretzel, and eat it. Do not take more than one pretzel at a time.
29. Spill a small amount wine on yourself. Go back to the bathroom to "clean up".
30. Spend 20 minutes in the bathroom staring in the mirror contemplating the likelihood that you will die alone.
31. Go through the host's prescriptions. See if you can find anything naughty.
32. Snapchat the naughty thing to your friend who hasn't yet arrived, along with the message, "lol having fun, where r u??"
33. Leave the bathroom.
34. Your friend has still not arrived? Don't worry. This time, spill an enormous amount of wine on yourself.
35. Leave the party to go home in search of a new shirt. Surely your friend will have arrived by then.
36. Return to the party to discover that your one friend – the one who's good at introducing people and starting up conversations with strangers – has still not effing arrived, and you are miserable and alone, and terrible at everything.
37. Look at your phone more.
38. Look at whatever the host has hanging on their walls. Is there any art? You're in luck. Art requires a long and thoughtful analysis.
39. Look at any family photos. Look at them deeply.
40. Look at the host's books. Pull out a book. Open it to a random page, stare at it for eight seconds, as if reading, and smile knowingly.
41. Look at your phone again.
42. While looking at your phone, mutter "Oh, Alan!" and shake your head.
43. Say to no one in particular: "Alan needs help finding the place!"
44. Leave the party again in search of "Alan".
45. Hide behind a hedge row in the neighbour's front garden like a wary pheasant.
46. Yearn for the tranquil solitude of your mother's womb.
47. Despair at the fundamental shallowness of human interaction.
48. YOUR FRIEND HAS ARRIVED. Wait for them to enter the party, before following behind them.
49. Pronounce to your friend, and the entire room, "OH, I was just on the phone!" Laugh wildly. You are safe now. No one will suspect.