Your phone rings. You look at the caller ID and you suddenly feel the cold splinter inserted into your heart. It’s Susan. She likes to chatter like a monkey with engorged hindquarters (and resembles that in so many ways). Your neighbors warned you that she would be calling with an invitation to the annual neighborhood block party, she happens to be hosting.
Your mind races through your catalogue of excuses not to go. Then your other catalogue of reasons not to answer the phone; as beads of sweat pour from your every pore, soaking your clothing as though you just ran through the carwash sans the car. You’re instinct overrides on the third ring and your thumb touches the green key on your phone. Before you can get the phone to your ear to say “Hello,” Susan has already launched into her chatter-fest seemingly running in a loop through every phone call she makes.
“So I was talking to Lisa and Jim and you know how they just LOVE parties and I told them that I was hosting this year’s block party and they were just ALL into helping me but you know how I LOVE doing these things myself I mean if you want something done right now what I mean anywho I just called to invite you to come to the party we’re going to have SUCH a blast with all the games and fun it’ll be THE social event of the season look forward to see you there gotta run bye” *click*
By now you’re nerves have frayed to the point of crawling through your skin and off to Texas all on their own. You practice deep breathing to try to calm your racing mind and restart your heart.
Finally, the day comes and you have just had an epiphany: small talk can be fun if used properly and it might just deter further invites from Susan and her ilk. You arrive at the party with your usual crockpot of chili and you are greeted by a disapproving “Susan Clone Committee” who seem to be in a dither that everyone brought chili instead of the smorgasbord of delicacies they had meticulously been assigned. Hey, they should be happy you brought extra cornbread for your chili!
Then the fun begins with Susan grabbing your arm and dragging you into her group of intimates. She begins cooing about each person’s attributes, sounding more like a used tire salesperson working on commission. When she FINALLY takes a breathe for you to give each of her group the “once over” you make your move! You turn to Susan and in a loud, but conversational voice, say something to the effect of: “WOW! That zit you had earlier this week has come along nicely. You can barely see it with all that make up!” Followed by your pointing it out and looking closely at the spot (real or imagined).
The sad thing about “small talk” is that the same inevitable questions are asked:
- Where do you work?
- What do you do there?
- What did you think of the game?
Then the evaluation begins of:
- your clothing
- your shoes
- your job
- your job title
- your salary
- your cellphone
- your cologne, aftershave, and/or deodorant
- your hair
- the amount of product in your hair
- where you will fit into the “desirability” list with the female guests.
- your car
- where would your car finish if you raced the other guys.
Now….when you hang out with YOUR chosen friends, there’s a mutually agreed upon activity (usually eventually involving a couch), an unspoken (but quite regulated) menu of assorted foods that will raise your cholesterol, and the all accompanied by various sounds, cheers, various exotic forms of greeting (knuckle bumps, noogies, butt smacks, belly bumps, or the extensive menagerie of handshakes), and lots of quiet. Not the awkward quiet, but the quiet that comes from having an unspoken conversation between friends.
Did I mention I am socially awkward when it comes to small talk?