Making Your Day Interesting

Calvin & Hobbes Make Your Day Surreal

Darrn Barefoot wrote about his inabilty to make small-talk, concluding in a similar post:

As I get older, the inertia to get weirder is difficult to resist.

I wouldn’t call it “weird”. I find as I get older I’m tending to not give a damn about more things, accepting my (and others) idiosyncrasies and faults (finally). I’ve always had a hard time performing niceties; I tend to ignore insincere “How are you”s and pseudo acts of politeness, and it’s always getting me in trouble; however, it also can make someone’s day a bit surreal, I suspect. For example, in reply to the tiring “How are you?”, I may say “My nose is itchy”. Why not?! In a store I sometimes ask the clerk what they think of what I’m buying: “Ever use this toothpaste? Do you think it’ll really make my teeth whiter in 14 days? What’s your most expensive toothpaste? Just wondering.”

It ain’t “weird”. It’s fun! Interesting! Right.

6 Replies to “Making Your Day Interesting”

  1. Jody, I think “My nose is itchy,” is an excellent response. I hope I remember to use it. And asking the cashier about the toothpaste you’re buying, that’s okay, too (though I’d like to see you do it).

    But I think you might be dressing up your anti-social tendencies as idiosyncrasies. People often refer to their supposed idiosyncrasies when they want to seem endearing, like, “Hey, I have so much character that I have idiosyncrasies!” When in reality they’re so socially isolated and have been for so long that they’ve simply lost what few social skills they once possessed. It’s a case of use it or lose it.

    The older I get, the more control I have over the people I socialize with, which means I see less people and I’m becoming more socially inept as time goes by. Or socially impatient. Either way.

  2. Phillip, I haven’t used the toothpaste bit yet, but I did ask a clerk once how most people paid for items. The number one choice of consumers: Visa credit card, then debit, then MasterCard, then cash.

    I’m not dressing them up; I’m calling them that, plain and simple. I don’t think I EVER had social skills though.

  3. I just read Darren’s entry. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. The conversation he had in the elevator seemed intelligent, competent and witty beyond anything I could come up with. How is this a problem? Did it cause him any undue stress? If not, who cares? My problem with smalltalk is the pressure it puts on me. I feel like I have to be sure to say something clever all the time. Darren sounds like he might be the kind of guy who, through the simply virtue of his intelligence, is always clever or funny. I think J-Walk may be the same way.

    Did he really say, “You should dye him black. Then he’d look slimmer”? That’s what I call competent smalltalk.

    I couldn’t figure out how to post a comment on his post, so I wrote it here instead.

  4. I’ve gotten slightly better at it as time goes one, only because i’ve made conscious (sp?) decisions to watch what others do, and how they react to situations. Still though, i’m pretty much stuck with “how ya doin” and usually getting responses that have something to do with the weather… :(

    Strangers don’t bug me as much as they used to, since i’m long past the point of giving a shit what they think.

  5. Speaking of small talk and harrassing cashiers… Now and then I’ll try to put a cashier on the spot with my “charming” small talk. For example, I’ll sometimes pass the cashier 5 bucks for something that cost $5.64 and say “Keep the change.” Sometimes it gets a smile, sometimes a snippy answer. Once cashier however, retorted with her own clever small talk. She told me my total was $5.65. I reached into my pocket and produced a fiver and then asked her if she could loan me 65 cents. Without missing a beat, she said “I would, but I’ve got to buy toilet paper on my way home.”

    Instant respect.

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