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.