Picture this: You’re at a bar with your friends, one of whom is going through a difficult divorce. Maybe this person is Adam Driver, and both of you are characters in one of the last scenes of Noah Baumbach’s new movie Marriage Story, where Adam plays a theater director going through a divorce. Or maybe it’s a real-life friend of yours who is going through a real-life divorce and happens to have recently watched Noah Baumbach’s new movie Marriage Story.
Anyway, there you all are, sipping your last dregs of red wine in a leather banquette at a bar, when they — Adam, or your real-life friend — starts singing “Being Alive” from the Stephen Sondheim musical Company. Uh-oh. They’re good, better than you expected even, but also, like, you’re in a bar full of strangers. Is this a healthy musical outpouring of emotion, or a cry for help? Do they expect you to join in or is this more of a solo journey? Here are some tips for how to navigate this tricky situation.
• Don’t stop smiling. Even if your cheeks start to get sore, smile through it. Your friend is going through something, and needs your support right now. The least you can do is look like their impromptu performance is going really well. As for the type of smile — beaming, half-laughing, half-crying — try reading your friend’s energy and reflect that back to them.
• Just because a glass is empty doesn’t mean you can’t take a sip from it. A good tip for when you need to rest your cheeks from all the smiling, or you just need to briefly escape reality.
• Don’t join in unless they specifically invite you to. This is their emotional climax, not yours. That being said, the second they gesture for you to come up and sing with them, you have to, regardless of how bad a singer you are, or whether you know the lyrics.
• Don’t look at how other customers around you are reacting. You won’t see anything good there. Also, from your divorced friend’s point of view, it might look like you’re embarrassed of them. Just keep watching your friend, send them healing vibes, and start making a mental list of people you could potentially set them up with.
• Never bring the incident up again, unless they do first. If they do bring it up, be like, “Oh, I guess I do remember that, yeah. You were so good!”