"Sorry, I already have lunch plans."
Told to: Someone at work, usually my boss, who wants me to attend an excruciating birthday lunch with my co-workers. I'd rather clip my toenails in a Cuisinart. Lunch is my time.
Told to: Again someone at work, when they ask me when my birthday is.
"She's my ex-girlfriend."
Told to: Bona fide loser who expresses an interest in one of my friends. This is vastly more effective than saying she's got herpes. It's a complete interest-annihilator. Only once did I have to follow this up with the phrase "sloppy seconds" in order to repel the guy.
Told to: Someone who doesn't know me very well, 'cause I never eat sushi. But if you're going to feign illness, go for something 1) unprovable and 2) about which no follow-up questions will be asked, lest your answer again include an allusion to wood chippers.
"Friends in Spokane."
Told to: Someone inviting me over for a holiday—someone who, suspicious, asks with whom I'm spending the day. Not that there aren't friends in Spokane, but I'm probably just sleeping in.
I'm miserably busy.
Emoted to: bosses, love interests, pretty much anyone who measures their own success by how miserable I seem to be. I learned this in grad school. I didn't have to actually work hard on my thesis. Just so long as I carried around a big stack of books and looked like I was about to cry, the faculty was completely satisfied and left me alone.
"I'm between jobs."
Told to: Contractors who are bidding on something.
"I work for Avis."
Told to: Anyone who asks me where I work. I used to say "Boeing," but then I ran into someone who actually worked there. Excruciating, but still less so than admitting "Microsoft."
"I have no living relatives."
Told to: Anyone asking about my family. Same diversionary effect as "Avis," except that I don't really want to work at Avis.
"Wow. Ed really adores you! She's usually so shy with new people."
Told to: Women. It works because they want to believe there's homage in my dog's perpetual butt-wiggle. If Satan himself appeared in my living room, Ed would whirl around his feet, whoring for him to scratch her ass with his pitchfork.