Shoot me for stating the obvious but Facebook just keeps on getting more popular, despite new social networks cropping up every other day (what the hell is Pinterest anyway?). It is easier than ever to keep in touch with friends from around the globe while travelling and maintain a relationship once you get home. When meeting new people abroad it would be considered strange to ask them for their email address and verging on creepy to ask for their myspace details.
Once you reach a comfortable level with someone, often in a setting where you both have internet access, you can drop the question. “How is your last name spelt again? Ok great, which one are you? The one drinking a cocktail in a vest or the one planking in front of the Taj Mahal? Super, we’re friends now.”
Now, for the rest of time you can then enjoy as they post photographs of their lunch and talk about how much they can’t wait for the weekend.
But what if someone doesn’t want you to add them on Facebook? What then? What if they have decided that enough is enough and they don’t want to see what you made for lunch.
This is an account of how Facebook, several pints of cheap Hungarian beer and my own stubbornness put me in a very awkward position; this is (one of) my Larry David moment(s).
I was staying in a hostel in Budapest called Carpe Noctem. I chose the hostel as it had an incredible rating on Hostelworld.com and I was feeling vaguely sociable. I arrived in the evening after walking through the city in the rain for an hour. It was difficult to find, located at the top of a large block of flats with eerily quiet hallways. It wasn’t an ideal location for a hostel.
I soggily dragged myself into a busy reception area and was offered a mug of Yorkshire Tea. I changed into dry clothes and enjoyed the brew before announcing that I was going to have an early night. Absolutely everyone in the room laughed and an Australian guy piped up.
“We don’t do that here; early nights.” – Carpe Noctem, it turns out, is a “party hostel” meaning that sobriety for an entire evening is not an option. It is sincerely frowned upon.
What followed, although I felt slightly bullied into it, was a great night. The hostel workers took us on a “shit pub pub crawl” which involved them guiding us through the dodgiest of dives all over town.
The drinks flowed and we ended up in a karaoke bar. I gave an energetic rendition of Blur’s Charmless Man in which I walked along tables singing in the faces of locals. I’m pretty sure they hated me. I also did a duet of Limp Bizkit’s Rollin with a South African guy complete with Fred Durst’s steering wheel mime dance moves.
I had a wonderful time and was pleased when someone suggested we head to a kebab shop to prolong the night. There was a fairly large group of us and I had spent most of my night with a select three of them.
Enjoying a chicken kebab with my new friends I was slightly annoyed when a girl at the opposite end of the table stood up as if she had an important speech to give. Keep down, I thought, we’re going through the highlights of our Limp Bizkit performance over here.
She produced a notebook from her handbag, “Guys, I’m going to hand my book around the table, if you could all give me your Facebook details I can add you so we can stay in touch.” She was a friend collector.
The book began its route around the table. I found myself getting more irritated the closer it got. I had spoken to this girl just once the whole evening and it was only to respond when she told me my tram ticket was upside down.
When the book arrived to me I casually handed it along to the next person and continued my conversation, pleased that there was no risk of me ever seeing a photo of what she had for lunch. Then it happened. She called me up on it. She silenced the rest of the group, halted the passing of the book and asked me why I hadn’t written my details down. I was stunned.
“I just thought we hadn’t spent much time together so there wasn’t a need to exchange details.” I said
“We’re staying at the same hostel, we might bump into each other again.” She responded.
“I like to leave these things to fate.”
I was hoping this would put an end to the discussion and we could all finish our kebabs and go to bed but she wouldn’t drop it and asked the fatal question, “Why don’t you want to be friends with me on Facebook!?”
I answered her truthfully.
“Because in all honesty I don’t know you and in a few weeks time a picture of your lunch will show up on my feed and I will wonder who on earth you are and then delete you anyway so I figure we should just cut out the middle steps and go about our lives.”
The kebab shop was silent, a couple of the other girls actually looked shocked. We walked silently home in separate groups and like Larry David himself I refused to give in and feel bad. In fact, it felt like one of life’s little victories.
Hungover the next day, my memory still hazy and my head very sore, I sat and ate a bowl of pesto pasta with a nice young lady (she had her own bowl, I don’t share pasta with strangers), both of us browsing the web on our laptops as we ate. After a short chat I asked her what her last name was and for some reason she went and finished her food in her dormitory.
I’m pretty sure that will be the last time I ever see her lunch.
Have you ever had an intensely awkward travelling moment? Let us know about it in the comments section below. Follow the author on twitter @jackdfranks