"Ug, I hate small talk." Not me. I love small talk. I'm introverted, socially awkward, I have trouble keeping up with conversations. Small talk saves me. I can talk about the weather, what a relief! Small talk gives me something to say ("It's so pretty out!"), something to ask ("Have you heard what the weather's supposed to be like this weekend?").
Small talk leads naturally to bigger talk in a way I couldn't have engineered myself. If I tried for big talk right away, I'd blurt out something that would make everyone feel uncomfortable. But with small talk, "Sure has been mild for this time of year!" leads casually to "Yeah, I even took the kids outside to play!," which leads to, "Oh, how old are your kids?," and before you know it we're on comfortable ground: kids, schools, minivan brands, marriages, friends who are pregnant. Or maybe it leads to travel plans, trips taken, how travel has changed since September 11th, whether or not you can bring nail clippers now. Or maybe it leads to plans for the holidays, various family traditions, how crazy our in-laws drive us. We have material for hours if we need it.
Here's what freezes me: NON-small talk. When someone comes up to me and says, "So, did you hear the giant sucking sound?" and I am like a rabbit in the headlights. Huh? What are we talking about? And it turns out we're talking about jobs going to Mexico, a subject I know nothing about but can't fake the way you can fake the weather ("I think it's rainier than usual for November, isn't it? Or maybe it just feels that way every November!"). Or when someone asks me a question about something I feel I ought to know about but don't: "What's this town's crime rate like?" Me: "Um. Good? Oh! Rainy!"
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...