Re: Small Talk (and Other Hazards)

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“When I go to a party and try to launch small talk, it displaces its own weight and we sink with all hands aboard.”

 – Hildegard Dolson

From “I Love a Nice Liar“, 1967


 

I stumbled across this quote from Hildegard Dolson the other day whilst reading a compendium of humor writings and I immediately identified with it, for I am not now, nor have I ever been, good at small talk.

It’s not that I think small talk is beneath me.  Far from it.  I envy people who are good at it.  But whenever I try to engage in small talk, my brain cuts all ties with my mouth, wishes it well in its future endeavors, and waves from the dock as the S.S. Blathering Mouth drifts, rudderless, out to sea.

I can only watch and listen helplessly (and aghast) as my mouth strings together the most preposterous thoughts using the most motley, mangy collection of mongrel words ever to have escaped the confines of a thesaurus.   I can only hope that people assume I am under the influence of strong narcotics, for I would hate for them to think that this is my actual brain talking.

7 comments

  1. I can relate too! As a high functioning introvert (IOW not extroverted but I can play that role), I try to find a common ground by asking what a person’s passion is as opposed to what they do for a living. I’ve often found that rewarding and more fruitful than the usual palaver.

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  2. That’s one reason I like writing – you have more time to think about what you’re saying. I’m not sure I’d want to be at the other end of the spectrum where folks blurt out whatever, without concern as to it’s relationship to pragmatic reality. Were that the case I’d probably be obliged to enter into politics or sales. :^)

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  3. I can make typical “small talk” from now until the cows come home, but the truth is I’d just as soon spend time with the cows. On the other hand, it strikes me as interesting that one of the worst criticisms of a person used to be, “He talks big.”
    Or, as we Texans have it and as you surely know, “He’s all hat and no cattle.”

    Of course, there’s a difference between cocktail party chatter and the small talk that takes place in a post office line. That’s why I haven’t been to a cocktail party in about thirty years.

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