Spoiler alert: I’m not exactly the world’s greatest conversationalist.
For the curious, the opening line above is an example of my patented Start-By-Telling-Them-How-You-Suck approach to writing. You can buy a pamphlet describing the technique – and much, much more – for only three easy payments of $19.99. -Ed.
As the holidays cascade down upon us like a perfect storm, I’m already anticipating how I’ll surf that wave and/or navigate the complex maze-like quagmire of quicksand in quixotic fashion.
The holidays means lots of group settings of social interactions. Historically I do not fare well in these and opt instead to spend my time studying in minute detail the nearest potted plant. I’m bringing my magnifying glass just in case.
Since I remain ever hopeful, however, I’ve been role-playing various stratagems in my mind that might increase my odds of getting the occasional word in edgewise. Or I could give up in advance and just play the lotto.
A normal conversation consists of the following:
Person A: Me.
Person B: No, me!
Person C: Bloody hell to both of you. Me, me, me!
Person D: Did I ever tell you about me?
Person E: Did you say something?
Person F: … Apple’s tri-tone sound …
Person A: Ahem. You weren’t listening. I say again …
Every once in a while as the conversation morphs dynamically through these shifting realities, I may actually have something interesting to add. I hate it when that happens.
Person A: Yeah, there are a lot of elephants in Thailand
…. 20 minutes and 420 topics later I finally awkwardly interrupt and take my dream shot …
Me: An elephant sat on my head once.
Everyone: What the fuck are you talking about?!
Yeah. About that potted plant.I’ve heard that one thing that helps make you seem interesting is to ask questions about the other person. Especially if you can appear thoughtful and fake sincerity in the process. If successful, your only job is to tlean back, stay silent, let their mouth do all of the work, and celebrate a job well done.
I’m looking forward to trying this out. To that end I have prepared some questions in advance.
My only worry is that the conversation will run through a googolplex of permutations before I get my first chance to speak. That would be bad and could go down like this:
Person A: So, can you tell us what’s new with your son?
… swift kick to the nards …
Me: I was gonna ask that question!!
Person B: Someone dial up the whambulance!
Lastly, sometimes the floor is occasionally dished my way. If and when that happens I should be ready. Usually this is a provactive attempt to surprise me so much as to induce heart attack. Assuming I survive long enough, I usually succumb to the intense pressure. The stress of filling that space is simply too high. I usually stammer out something like, “Goo goo gah gah.” Then everyone shrugs, wonders why the hell they bothered to give me a chance, and resumes talking about the fractal shapes of their bunions.
Also, something about the spirit of the season and it’s better give than receive but I can’t remember any of that crap right now. I’ve been much too busy with the pre-conversation planning.
I just hope I’m not over-thinking it. Perhaps I should limit my dreams to the Ribbon of Participation.