HOLDREGE, NE—According to local resident Jay Reagor, his longtime friend Geoff Scovell, 25, is somehow not good at hanging out, the low-pressure recreational pastime in which skill and ability are generally not considered to be factors.
Scovell's logic-defying ineptitude at hanging out is allegedly not linked to any animosity between the two friends, nor is it due to any annoying, uptight, or otherwise inappropriate hang-out behavior on the part of Scovell, making the phenomenon all the more baffling.
"It's weird," said Reagor, who met Scovell five years ago through Holdrege Pool Supply coworker Brian Neikirk and bonded with him over their mutual interest in baseball, the Kinks, and Chuck Palahniuk novels. "Geoff's a good guy. We're friends. We get along. You would think that hanging out with him would be very fun. But whenever we hang out…it's like…it's not easy to hang out. Which makes no sense, because hanging out is like the easiest thing."
"How can someone not be good at sitting on a couch and watching television with someone else?" Reagor added.
According to Reagor, Scovell acts no differently from the majority of his other friends while hanging out, exhibiting the same apparent fondness for making jokes, conversing about random topics, partaking in enjoyable activities, and laughing. He acts in an affable manner, and does not smack his lips when eating. Scovell rarely overstays his welcome. An analysis of these factors has led Reagor to conclude that Scovell must somehow lack the innate human ability to be an enjoyable person to spend time with.
Reagor has spent the past two weeks closely monitoring Scovell's behavior in an attempt to pinpoint the cause of his friend's poor hang-out skills.
"He technically doesn't ever do anything wrong," Reagor said. "But then, how can you do something wrong? There's no rules for hanging out, other than just being yourself, and Geoff does that, and I like Geoff."
Added Reagor, "I guess he does do this thing where he, like, winks at me after he makes a sarcastic remark about how I suck at Madden, but that can't possibly be the reason why hanging out with him almost feels like the opposite of hanging out. But what the hell is the opposite of hanging out?"
Dr. Beverly Pritchett, a behavioral psychologist who specializes in interpersonal hang-out deficiency, said the disorder is not uncommon.
"The inability to naturally evoke a sense of comfort during a period of extended friend-to-friend interaction—or 'hang-out session'—despite sharing similar interests and social sensibilities is a problem that affects thousands of American men and women," Pritchett said. "In fact, I have witnessed it firsthand on numerous occasions. See, my friend Anne, whom I've known since seventh grade, she's just the sweetest woman, but whenever I go out for a drink with her, it's like, I don't know, like I'm not having fun. But I'm also not not having fun. You know?"
Reagor said he first noticed the trend in Scovell three years ago, when he made the transition from exclusively hanging out with him in groups to spending time with him in one-on-one situations ranging from playing video games to consuming alcohol. In larger groups, Reagor explained, Scovell's difficulty hanging out is less pronounced.
"Now that I think about it, he's bad at hanging out when there's a bunch of us, too," Reagor said. "I don't know what it is, but every time he comes over to join a conversation, it gets tense, even though he says funny things and intelligent things and doesn't try to change the subject or anything. And if we're all hanging out at his place, he'll get up and say, 'Anyone need a drink?' which is textbook fun-hanging-out behavior. But with him it's like, it just, it comes off as, I don't know, but I'm always very relieved when he leaves the room."
"Sometimes I wonder how we ever became such good friends in the first place," Reagor added. "Maybe we're actually not good friends. But no, we are. Wait. Are we?"