After enduring dozens of grueling hours with your relatives this holiday season, you may need to go to the bar for a drink. This poses its own challenges: navigating the impromptu high school reunion that occurs therein.

This is mainly a problem for former small town kids like myself. You go home for the holidays, go out to the one good bar with the two or three people you actually want to see, then end up running into dozens of half-remembered John's and Lisa's from Junior chemistry classes past. It is an awkward situation made even more awkward by the fact that all the small talk has to compete with blaring Kenny Chesney songs. Here's how to avoid this:

Drink to excess: This is my preferred method. You can't engage in awkward conversation with the girl who blocked you on AIM in 9th grade after you confessed you had a crush to her if you are pounding Budweisers with both hands. And if you do end up in a bad situation, there's a good chance you won't remember it in the morning. Con: Can get expensive.

Feign ignorance: Don't want to talk to that high school friend you secretly hated about how much better his life is now than yours? Just pretend not to remember him. If he approaches you, look puzzled and say "I'm sorry, I don't smoke." At this point, he might say something like, "But, Adrian, it's me! Your old friend John!" Look him dead in the eyes and calmly say: "Adrian's dead." Then turn and walk away. Very mysterious. Con: May start a murder investigation.

Concoct a family tragedy: In general, people really don't know how to talk to other people about their tragedies. Compounded with the inherent awkwardness of the hometown bar situation, making up some horrific tragedy in your life can short-circuit even the most determined long-lost acquaintance. Don't know about you, but I would definitely not have anything to say to someone who had just told me their entire family died in a helicopter crash while treasure-hunting in Belize. Con: People may offer to adopt you.

Concoct staggering financial and/or romantic success: Or you could go the other way, and boast to everyone how your life is super awesome now, with a beautiful girlfriend and a job you love. Nobody wants to hear about this. Con: No one will believe you.

Engage in polite small talk: Yeah, you could just talk to them like a normal human. Not recommended.