Thursday, January 12, 2006

Small Talk 2

I had a former blog entry with this same title and it was about somebody who does mostly small talk.

In the musical, Music Man, the main character provided a quote that seems to fit with the philosophy of my blog site. See below:

Harold Hill: Oh, my dear little librarian. You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering.

In addition to this there is a little gossip song sung by the townsfolk about ‘small talk.’ Or because it is a small town more like gossip.

Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little
Cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more
Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little
Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep

I am not a fan of small talk as I have said before in this blog. Yet, I am married to the National Award Master of Small Talk. It is his life’s blood. He cannot get on the elevator at this apartment or at work at 6:30 A.M. without starting a conversation with whomever is on the elevator with him (If no on is there I am the target.). It makes no difference if the person has or does not have coffee in his/her hand. They only need to keep their eyes open long enough to make eye contact with him. He will start a conversation on anything including the WEATHER. I, on the other hand, can sit on a plane for three hours and not have a clue about where the person sitting next to me lives or what he/she does for a living.

Yesterday, the husband half of the new couple that moved in across the hall a week ago was knocking at our door. (I didn’t even know the girl across the hall had moved out!) He had talked to my husband on the elevator and wanted to know if he could listen to our bathroom fan. Sure, I get that kind of request every day(!). He is Chinese American and had a very thick accent, so it took me a while to even believe that I understood his request. It seems that his fan is so noisy he can’t sleep. But, since our fan is just as loud as his, it looks as though he will have to do something else for his problem.

It’s not that I don’t like people…I mean, my god, I blog. I respond to blogs. I like to read about others everyday lives. I also am a big people watcher and find sitting at an airport that I am torn from reading my book by eavesdropping on nearby conversations or studying the people that got off the last plane. BUT, I am not a lover of small talk, especially if I will never build a relationship with the person over time. I guess that is why I like email more than a phone call. I can talk on my terms, at my length and listen to the response when I am ready. During pioneer days I would have been the perfect quiet knitter, sitting and humming near the fireplace.

Yet, this is why I am so totally out of it most of the time. I am the one who would attend a meeting at a large company and find to my surprise they are downsizing, while everyone around me is sweating bullets before the boss even walks in the room. I am the one who finds out they are changing the parking fees the day they are changed.

I mean, I CAN make small talk with the best of them. But the back of my mind is racing ahead thinking about the day’s upcoming schedule, or when I should leave the cocktail party and head back to my hotel room and unwind, or thinking to myself if I really want to wait in this line much longer while the stranger in front of me talks about his three-year-old’s cold.

Thankfully I am married to the SMALL TALKER or all small talkers. He is the one who finds out the names of all the people on our floor and what most of them do. He is the one who finds out how many cars were broken into last week and how many were actually stolen in our apartment parking lot. He finds out who at work got inseminated without getting married before she shows. He is the one who got my son his first job because he made small talk with someone who was on a committee meeting that he attended as a fill-in for someone else.

Of course, he is also charming. He has those bold blue eyes that fascinate people. You trust people with blue eyes. I on the other hand am just a normal hazel nut. Hardly the charmer. More the inquisitive-get-to-the-point type.

So what is my point? I don’t know. I guess just that small talk is important and marrying somebody opposite from you can have its advantages.


  1. I am quite like you. My brother-in-law, though, is quite like your husband. He ALWAYS has something to say. One day he started on a story, and I said, "Yeah, I've heard that one." And he said: "Well, you're gonna hear it again."

    Like I said, he always has something....

  2. You and I are so alike, Tabor. I am not a very sociable person, so I do prefer to communicate via email or IM so it's on my terms. My husband isn't as friendly as yours is, but he is the one who makes the phone calls, chitchats with the neighbors, and gets on everybody's good side while I stand aside and smile on occasion.

  3. Anonymous4:16 PM

    I'm not big on small talk and my husband is. Is it a guy thing? Even oing to parties and sitting around talking is not the most fun for me. I like it better if I can unless play Scrabble or dance...or generally DO something.

  4. Dear Housemother: Your last comment on my site came through loud and clear. Maybe we're onto something.

    Happy tiling to you.

  5. Me, my eyes are brown. Full of sh!t up to here (so I heard that saying once).

    I used to be an introvert, but now people tell me I'm an extrovert. How did that happen? I will always think of myself as a quiet one. I am a Gemini - maybe I am both. I don't believe in horoscope stuff, but for the fun of it.

  6. Anonymous2:47 PM

    On behalf of all the small talkers of the world, myself included, it's like a smile, small talk. It is a means of connecting to those around you, a gentle means of putting people at ease. Plus, as you say, it gives the small talker a compass as to what is going on, we do know alot about what is going on. Also, you never know who you are standing next to, unless you engage in some sort of conversation, and sometimes it is a fascinating discovery. As a former journalist, it was an essential tool of the trade. In addition, it can provide the small talker with an effective means of changing a situation that everyone else knows needs to be changed but is not sure how to proceed. Example: I am standing in line at a mall clothing store for women, and a woman in front of me has with her a child who is obviously bored and cranky. All of us standing in line, and the clerk, can see the mother is growing ever angry with her child. I am watching the mother's jaws, which are clinched, and her hands, which are wrapped around the child's wrists way to tight. I am concerned what type of punishment this child might be in for once the mother and child get to the parking lot. So I engage her in small talk. I get her to laugh, I get her to relax. I have a child with me and in all that small talk I work in how it must be torture for a child to be dragged through an adult world, there is nothing fun for them. Why? Because I want her to find the empathy that may soften her anger towards her child. And I believe if I had confronted her directly, said the obvious, it would have simply made her more angry. I see small talk as an art, the ability to talk to anyone about anything, and it oftens leads to more meaningful conversations. I just looked at the length of my comment, so I probably did not need to tell you which side of the fence I was on in regard to small talk. *grin* Okay I am done.

  7. I agree that small talk (actually any talk) can be a tool to improve a situation, it's just that with many of us it requires an inner energy that we don't have. It is sort of like eating a food you don't like just to no offend someone.


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