This weekend I will be attending two events with co-workers and clients that I do not particularly know or like. I am dreading this a full five days in advance because a large amount of small talk will be involved.
Not only do I dislike small talk, it actually makes me nervous. I am not the wallflower type but sober conversation for the sake of sober conversation, with people I would never encounter in day-to-day life, confuses me.
And so, being somewhat neurotic, last night I began compiling a conversational cheat sheet of inoffensive topics/questions/stories.
- Weather. Variations on the theme It’s So Hard To Dress For This Time Of Year. Segue into the inaccuracies of the weather channel.
- Cooking. “Do you like to cook?” If yes, prod for recipes, if no, exchange cooking disaster stories.
- Commuting/Air travel. “Did you have trouble getting here?” “When are they going to build the 2nd Ave. subway?” “Air travel is very unreliable.” “Did you have to throw out your mascara?”
- Movies. “You saw _______? I was thinking of seeing it. How was it?” Repeat as necessary.
- Books. “I’m reading _______. It’s really interesting. It’s about ___________.” Repeat as necessary.
- Babies. “Do you have pictures? I love babies. Ohhhhhh…he is adorable.” Maintain rapt attention while listening to the story of Baby’s First Poop and The Other Day Baby Said “Gargle”.
- Shoes. “I love your shoes. Where did you get them?” Segue into my inability to wear heels due to height, segue into my boyfriend being the same height as me, segue into how comfortable flats are. Women only.
- Advice. “What do you know about _____?” Maintain wide-eyed expression while listening to long, garbling, most likely incorrect explanation of basic phenomenon. Men only.
Then when the uncomfortable silence comes, which it always does, I must remember to maintain a pleasant expression and, at the end of the night, express what a wonderful time I have had.
What is scary is that some people really do enjoy these types of things.