Saturday, 5 January 2019

Small Talk

You know what it's like. You get invited to a party, especially at this time of year with Christmas and the New Year celebrations, and you meet a lot of people ... some you know already ... and some you've never met before ... and you wish you'd never met them anyway.

And you all stand there with something to eat in your plate ... and a glass of wine in the other hand ... and you don't know whether to eat or drink because you do not have a third hand with which to do either ... and you pretend to be interested in the other person as you make small talk with people who approach you and encroach your private space and ... I hate it ... I hate it ... I hate it.

I just do not like small talk. Whether it is to break the ice when I meet someone for the first time, or just to be pleasant and pretend to have something to say when in fact I have nothing to say at all.

Or when you approach me and what you have to say may be of interest to you but only succeeds in sending me to sleep which would be unfortunate since I am now holding a plate of food in one hand and a drink in the other which I would like to enjoy; and if I fell asleep suddenly I would drop both to the floor and attract even more unwanted attention than the one I am having with you right now.

The other day at a party I was happily minding my own business and being totally unsociable as is my nature when I was approached by a man I had not met for some time and to be honest I could not remember his name, nor where I first met him, nor the circumstances through which we knew each other.

Immediately my brain started working fast to remember his name or where I knew him from. Was he a business connection, I wonder? An old client perhaps? Or did I know him from church? Did I meet him at the golf club maybe, or does he work at the library perhaps? Where did I ever get to know him and what is his name?

He, however, seemed to know me very well and started with "Hello ... long time no see ..."

(Doesn't it annoy you when the other person knows you so well and you do not have the faintest idea who he is?)

Anyway, he smiled and said, "Hello ... long time no see ..."

"Lucky me!" I thought, "just go away!"

Fortunately, he could not hear my unwelcoming thoughts, so he went on: "How are you keeping these days?" he continued and then proceeded in discussing various members of my family, "how is ... these days? and is ... still at school? ... and how is your mom-in-law doing? ... and do you still work in London?"

"Who is this tediously boring man?" I thought, who seems to know so much about me, and I can't mention or remember anything about him or his family, if he has got one. Where have I ever had the misfortune of meeting him before?

Then came the small talk.

"Where do you work in London? Regent Park? ... oh yes ... I have a friend there called Marjorie Smith ... do you know her? Or is it Regent Street? Can't remember. Either of the two! She has three children; a boy and two girls. Although I'd imagine they're grown up now. She used to work near London Zoo. Do you know it? Of course you do ... everyone knows London Zoo. I went there last when they had the baby gorilla ... do you remember the baby gorilla?"

I hate small inane talk that leads to nowhere. And this man was expert at it.

Let's analyse the nonsense he just said:

For a start, London is very large and happens to have more people living there than the whole of Scotland;

Smith happens to be one of the most common names in the UK;

and Regent Street and Regent Park are two completely different places;

how am I supposed to know this Marjorie Smith when I don't even know who you are?

And I do wish I was in the company of a baby gorilla right now. He would certainly be more entertaining than you prattling on.

And I can't be bothered listening to this man and his boring small-talk conversation any longer, and isn't life better when you are miserable and totally without prejudice since you dislike everyone equally?

Sometimes though, small talk can be pleasant ... I suppose ...

At another party I was approached by a wonderfully beautiful woman I know well. She was wearing the most tight fitting dress a hundred sizes too small. The pretty black number was as short as I can still remember, and it had a décolleté so low she might as well not have been wearing one!!!

For some reason, she immediately caught my attention, and kept it caught for as long as she stood there beside me. She was the kind of woman whom every man would want to be talking to; and yet, there she was talking just to me.

She was holding a plate of chocolate cake which she teasingly played with with her fork and every so often she placed the tiniest morsel on her lips whilst making small-talk which certainly concentrated my attention at the time; although I can't now remember one word she said. My mind and eyes were elsewhere as I recall.

Anyway, as she was placing a piece of cake on her lips, she accidentally dropped a crumb on her breast and did not notice it. As she continued talking that tiny crumb seemed to come to life and slowly made its way one little step at a time down her breast.
 
Now what is the party etiquette in such circumstances of small-talk? Does one point at her breast and say there's a piece of cake there? Or does one pick it up with one's fingers? Or with a spoon perhaps, to avoid touching her? Or does one ignore it altogether and watch it make its way down and hide inside her dress?

I tried to make small talk and look her in the eye, but somehow this proved too difficult as my gaze kept going South. She eventually noticed my distraction and looking down her breast she picked up the tiny crumb before it disappeared out of sight. She laughed heartily and asked me what I would have done if it had gone down her dress. "I would have warmed the spoon first," was my quick reply.

So as you can gather, I hate small-talk and mingling at parties. I think when we meet someone we should go immediately to straight talking like, "What do you think of this country's Gross Domestic Product compared to that of other European countries?" or "What would you do if reincarnation actually exists and you came back as yourself? Or a mosquito perhaps?" or "Do you ever re-cycle old jokes to entertain people or do you re-cycle yourself and send everyone to sleep?"

Those kind of straight questions, totally devoid of small-talk, would soon get any party going.

Personally, when I meet a woman at a party I often say, "That's a lovely pair of shoes you are wearing!" Especially if I am lying flat on the floor drunk at the time.

What sort of small talk do you use at parties?

18 comments:

  1. Oooh, I detest small talk! Thankfully, I've removed myself from circumstances where that sort of thing was warranted. But(!) when pressed, I found that asking someone (flattering) questions about themselves ensures me not having to talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tell you honestly, Mevely, I hate small talk when it is in business. For example the office Christmas party, or when someone retires. We all stand there politely talking to each other with people I don't like anyway; or people I meet every day. How do you make small talk with someone you've been working with ten minutes ago?

      "Hello John. It's been a bad year for you hasn't it? Pity you got demoted to a more menial job. How's life down in the archives?"

      That's hardly encouraging is it? At least it is honest.

      God bless you, Mevely.

      Delete
  2. I too am not a mingler. Sometimes I wish I was. There is always the news, the latest robbery to discuss I suppose .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually Christine, one trick I can teach you in this situation. When you're cornered at a party with someone you don't like and you have to small talk with, just point in the direction of a small group and say, "I think Peter over there is trying to attract your attention. He probably wants a word with you". Your small talker will move to Peter and you can make your escape to someone else more interesting to talk to ... like me!

      God bless.

      Delete
  3. I don't go to parties anymore so it's not a problem, been there, done that. I think small talk is very shallow, it's all fake so why bother. If you are trying to impress people maybe you should be doing something that you actually enjoy and love doing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did Bill. I did. I did try to do something I actually enjoy. I tried a back somersault and fell on the table full of drinks and food. What a party that was. Small talk indeed.

      God bless.

      Delete
  4. I absolutely abhor small talk, Victor. Been there, done that one too many times. Neither Danny nor I enjoy those kind of parties where you don't really know people, so we avoid them like the plague. However, your humorous take on the small talk predicament certainly left me smiling! Gotta watch out for those cake crumbs!
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well Martha ... honestly ... I did not know what to do. I was looking at the cake crumb ... not her breasts ... ample as they were.

      I have a feeling you don't believe me.

      God bless you, my friend.

      Delete
  5. I am not one for small talk.
    Mostly I just sit or stand and try to blend in with the scenery.
    Actually I am rather shy...plus I always worry that I will offend someone by saying something wrong. So I let someone else start the conversation.

    God's Blessings ✝

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same at parties, Jan. I don't want to offend anyone by telling them to go away and bore someone else. That man who approached me at the party seemed to know everything about me. At the time, I could not remember where I had the misfortune to first meet him.

      Not so with the lady in the tiny black dress. I remember her all too well.

      God bless.

      Delete
  6. All the parties I go to are always church related so I don't have too much of an issue with small talk. I will admit I get embarrassed when someone knows my name and I can't remember their's. The woman with the low cut dress reminds me how important modesty is.

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    1. Oh Regina ... believe me ... I was being very modest indeed.

      It really is terrible when I can't remember someone's name.

      God bless you.

      Delete
  7. Oh my goodness small talk or the modern word networking (well I think that's what it's called) can be such a chore (bore) but at times in our life, for some, is necessary.

    I actually looked it up and this is what Wikipedia says, "small talk is conversation for its own sake. The phenomenon of small talk was initially studied in 1923 by Bronisław Malinowski, who coined the term "phatic communication" to describe it. The ability to conduct small talk is a social skill; hence, small talk is some type of social communication."

    Thank goodness I'm now at the stage in my life when I rarely have small talk situations … but being British … we can always talk about the weather :) LOL!

    Enjoy your weekend

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this, Jan. I very much appreciate it; and you have given me a brilliant idea - bless you.

      I shall copy your second paragraph and memorise it. Then next time I am at this situation, say at an office party or get together, and someone boring approaches me, I'll say, "Did you know that small talk was initially studies in 1923 ... ... ..."

      This will either impress my listeners, (more than they do already about me), or make them move away. Either outcome will suit me best.

      You could be my personal adviser on how to keep people away from me at parties and gatherings. I've tried talking about the weather, but it still does not drive people away.

      Happy weekend. God bless you.

      Delete
  8. I am not a party person and also detest small talk and having to mingle with folks I don't know. Put me in a corner, preferably behind a large plant, and I'm a happy party goer. I would just as soon stay at home. Bah-humbug!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I know the feeling all too well, Terri. Often at work I wished I did not have to go to these gatherings. But I had to. My absence would have been noted and frowned upon.

      God bless.

      Delete
  9. Oh man, this is right in my wheel house. I hate these types of get togethers. For small talk with guys, it is usually football or whatever sport is in season...still usually boring.

    For the young lady I might have said, "Not to be impolite, but I can't help but to notice, you have the most beautiful crumb resting on your breast."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree JoeH. The men's talk is always about sports. A subject I know absolutely nothing about.

      I really love your comment to the woman with the crumb. This is just brilliant.

      God bless you.

      Delete

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