Making Conversation

Is there anything more trying than trying to make conversation?  What do you say when you don’t know what to say? How do you converse with someone when you’re stuck in an awkward situation?

Say you’re strolling down the street with a good friend.  You run into a friend of hers whom she greets effusively. Just as she begins the introductions, her phone rings.  She excuses herself to take the call, leaving you staring at the stranger who is staring back at you. What to say?

“Um-Uh, nice day, isn’t it?”  “Yes, isn’t it?” “Er-Ah, Yesterday was nice too.”  “Yes, wasn’t it?” “Ah-Uh, I hear it might rain tomorrow.”  “Yes, it might.”

And so it goes until your friend mercifully finishes her long-winded call and returns to her friend and you. After all that,  it turns out she’s mistaken a total stranger for someone she thought she knew, excuses are made and the stranger walks away, shaking her head.  You glare at your friend, finding quite a lot to say to her.

Or maybe you’re at a reception, standing alone.  A very attractive older gentleman, silver hair neatly gleaming , has been eyeing you.  He approaches with the tired old line, “Haven’t we met before?” He looks harmless and interesting so you rather daringly flutter your lashes and simper  “Perhaps.”

He replies,  “Let me ask my wife. She’s right over here and she remembers everyone.”  and he calls a lovely blonde over, explains the situation and disappears, leaving you floundering.

“Um-Ah, Nice day, isn’t it?”  etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Maybe you run into your very first boyfriend on a trip back to your old hometown.  You stare at each other in disbelief, meanwhile both thinking the same thought, “Yuck! I might have married that  weirdo.” There seems to be nothing to say. “Um. Uh, Hi there. Nice day isn’t it?” “Yeah, Hi to you too. Ah, er,  yes, very nice day.” ‘‘Blah, blah, blah. “ Another total impasse.

And occasionally there’s the reverse, where you’re trying not to make conversation.  You’re on a plane preparing for a long flight. You’re seated between 2 ladies who immediately set up a “let’s get acquainted”  chat over your head. All you want to do is find out who really done it in the last 100 pages of a gripping Whodunit. but they seem determined to be sociable and to include you in their visit.

Before you know it you’re confiding the ages  of your children, and sharing the horrors of childbirth with 2 people you’ve never seen before and will never see again.  Enough! Much better to be stuck searching for words than babbling on about your most personal life.

And then there are those thankfully few occasions when you make too much conversation, as in foot-in-mouth,  where no amount of apology will get rid of the humiliation of something you just blurted out, causing hurt feelings and dirty looks.

I still cringe when I recall bending over my neighbor’s baby, gurgling and cooing in her crib.  What I thought I was saying was, “What an adorable looking baby!” and what came out was “What a deplorable looking baby!”  Now, how do you un-say that? My neighbor still isn’t speaking to me.

So, yes, you can make too much conversation.  Better that we stick to commenting on the weather, no matter how boring it may be.

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Downsizing

I think I’ve owned at least one of everything ever made at least once in my life. Looking back over countless moves through the years, I realise I’ve downsized every time, tossing out or donating boxes and bags of STUFF with each move, then ending up having to replace most of it as I settle into my new location.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? My reasoning? Always aiming towards simplifying my life by paring my belongings back to basics, yearning for that elusive feeling of not being owned by things.

Take for example a simple item like a shoe horn. Does anyone even own shoe horns anymore? With the popularity of velcro straps, loafers, tennies and flip flops, who needs shoe horns in today’s world? Apparently I do.

I came across two while packing for my most recent move (which happened to be the 39th move of my adult life). This discovery brought me to a halt while I dithered over those shoe horns. At least one had to go, if not both. I pondered. So did I dump them both into the nearest trash can? Well, no, not exactly.

That old bugaboo, “what if?” or “just in case” crept into my thinking. Let’s see now, I’m getting older. It’s getting harder to reach my feet. I may find a need for orthopedic type shoes in the near future. “What if” I suddenly needed a shoe horn and couldn’t find one? After all, they don’t take up much space. I’d better keep one “just in case.”

Then the next big decision – which one? – the handy little plastic one or the longer metal one?

Well, you guessed it. As I’m unpacking my belongings in my new home, there they are, both shoe horns, ready to use, “just in case.”

No wonder my downsizing efforts never work very well. When you multiply two tiny shoe horns by the many things it takes to run one of today’s households, you soon develop a real problem.

How many people do you know who own two refrigerators, one in the kitchen and one in the garage for the sodas and beer? Plus a freezer! This is in spite of the fact that no one is ever more than ten minutes away from a Mini-mart, a Quickee-mart or a Super-mart? At least I’ve never owned two refrigerators at the same time, not yet.

I’ve finally had to face the fact that the more things I get rid of, the more I replace. My feeble attempts at downsizing are doomed from the start. No wonder the landfills are overflowing.

I still long for a simpler life. Maybe someday I’ll get there, just as soon as I can get rid of those two shoe horns.