Underneath The Misanthropy-toe

I’m a people person. Wait, what I mean to say is, “I’m a people, person.” As in, “Hey, you person, I am a people so please afford me the basic courtesy of never speaking to me, making eye contact with me or acknowledging our simultaneous existence in any way. Thanks.”

I do not care for small talk. I find something repulsive and detestable about a stranger feeling so uncomfortable with a shared silence that they feel the need to strangle it to death with meaningless words. It’s like they notice the presence of another human and their lizard brain immediately commands them, “MAKE NOISE! MAKE NOISE TO SEEM SCARY OR IT WILL EAT YOU! ALSO MAKE YOURSELF BIG! LOOK BIGGER AND MAKE NOISE AND YOU WILL SURVIVE THIS!” I love conversation, but I love for it to be real; to have a purpose.

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I’m even happy with casual conversation from a stranger, if it has a purpose. “Am I near the dog park?” “How do you get there?” “Have you seen my dog?” “WHERE AM I?! WHERE IS MY DOG?! WHERE I AM GOING?! HOW DID I GET… oh, there’s my dog. Come along, Crackers.” These are purposeful words. These words are unlike, “Hey… Mondays, am I right?” “That’s some weather we’ve been having.” and “Big plans for the weekend?” You can probably tell that my most frequent exposure to this smallest of talk was in elevators back when I had a regular job. There’s something about elevators that squeezes words out of people like a long since empty tube of toothpaste. There’s nothing in there, but you squeeze and fold and force it none the less until something, anything comes out. In these circumstances, I wouldn’t even mind the small talk if it was just honest. “How about that crippling despair that’s been going around?” “That’s some irreversible damage we’ve done to the only planet we have; the only home our children and our children’s children will inherit, am I right?” “You got any plans for the unending nothingness that awaits us all upon our deaths?”

It’s holidays times, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have an Amazon Wishlist for any of you who are interested in such things.

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24 Comments

  1. I have to drive our shuttle van to the airport for work. I also work the graveyard shift and usually end up at the airport within 1/2 hour of getting to work. A lot of the time I have just barely woken up, and have no idea what happened between the hours of 1-10 P.M. I also have no idea what the weather is doing, or what it is going to do.

    It never fails though that the first thing out of the people I pick up mouths is "Hey it's pretty cold, are you guys going to get more snow/hail/clouds of acid?"

    I lie to them every time, because I am tired of trying to small talk with people who have just got out of a plane and all they want to do is get to the hotel and sleep. I love lying to random strangers,

  2. No dogs are allowed in the Dog Park. Also, don't make eye contact with any hooded figures…or you might have to talk about the weather.

    • I don't know about dogs, but there's all these dark buzzing figures that are only identifiable by the absence of light in their general area.

  3. Talking to strangers. I have this love/hate relationship with casual conversation. On a day where I pretend to be a human being, whenever I feel good about myself and usually not until after at least a beer or two, I can enjoy small talk. Why small talk? Exactly because it is meaningless. It gives me a feel for a person before I start conversations about anything else really. Like try imagining opening with "That Hitler dude was a real pain in the ass, but I'm sure glad he improved on the infrastructure – I'm like, that's one massive achievement – mass murder is one thing, but the logistics behind this thing man.. the logistics!". It's usually on the train. I'm on the train quite often, you see, so therefore train conversations just happen.

    Eons ago, like, 2 months at least, I was going to a party and I was running late because Amsterdam Central station now has a piano and half the time I'm there I end up singing with random people that I've never met. As was the case now, and I was pretty thrilled about it. This guy sat down across from me and we had a little chat about the piano and random stuff like what's his job and what's mine. At some point, I told him where I was going and this guy whom I had never met turned out to be going to the same, small, private party that was halfway across the country. I find such things fascinating.

    On a bad day, I just stare at everyone in horror if they want to talk to me. So there's that, too.

  4. I work retail, a place that is very neighborhood-y and frequented by older people, and I rock small talk. If someone seems uncomfortable by it, I shut up. Most people are okay, though.

  5. I wouldnt even acknowledge other people on the street as members of the same species as me if the law didnt require me to. I have yet to find a body language that really speaks "dont talk to me, dont greet me, dont make eye contact, dont even BREATHE near me, just leave me the fuck alone". And then, you have the people who WANT to be casual, who try to talk to whoever theyre next to on planes and buses and whatnot. Who does that? I dont give a shit that you feel you're trying to revive the lost art of conversation of not, I want nothing to do with you.

    • I try to do a "good afternoon" to everyone I pass (assuming I'm not downtown when it's way too crowded). If people try for more small talk than that, though, I find a side street to flee down.

      • I dont, I cant stand it when people I dont know greet me at random, its weird. Its one thing to do it if you're a cashier or something, but just some random guy on the street. No.

        • I think it comes from growing up in a small town, so everyone usually did know each other at least in a "I've seen you before" sense. Some folks say hello back, some glare at me, and I've had a few perk right up. If I can make someone's day just by saying hello, I'm gonna do it.

    • There is a set of body language characteristics that will get that point across, and I've developed it for use in my day-to-day interactions with the large mass of be-smartphon'd, self-absorbed humanity.

      Its taken me years to do it, and sadly (or not), it's very difficult to turn off when you're around people, or in situations, where you actually NEED to interact in a pleasant manner to get X thing accomplished. Such as…I have to mentally remind myself to smile, where the "normals" who use the crutch of small-talk can do that as a reflex.

      There are also times where the universe tells people I am the source of all knowledge, and randos will come up to me at stores, gas stations, lunch counters and ask me for all manner of help. The "go away" stance fails completely then, and I am forced to talk to them. *sigh*

  6. Exactly. That. All those things. Yes. Unfortunately, small talk is often the eye twitch inducing ramp up (or more likely, pit of despair) to actual conversation. Can we all just agree to strive to avoid small talk for the love of all that's good and civilized? Yes? ::sits in uncomfortable awkward silence then wanders off before she starts mentioning the weather::

  7. I encounter a lot of this, walking down the hallway at work:
    Other Being: "Hi, how are you?"
    This Being: "Hello." *Polite nod*
    Other Being: "Good, that's great!"
    …what?

    • YES! This exactly!

      WTH are you making small talk with me with you OBVIOUSLY aren't even engaged with me beyond your reflex to have to fill silence with words, and your words don't even make sense!!!

      Why bother ANYONE with talking then?!?! Just walk past me, and if you want to nod, great…but go on your way!

  8. –Amazon list full of blu-rays
    –Recent comic talking about how blu-rays sit on the shelf gathering dust, because Netflix is easier.

    HMMMMMMMMM.

    • I prefer Netflix for entire series when they're available. I rarely watch actual movies on Netflix. I also don't want to obsessively own the bluray of every movie I like (like I did with DVD's), but I DO want to own my absolutely favorite movies. The ones I'm likely to watch over and over.

  9. I hate small talk. If anyone asks how I am doing I reply awesome and move along.

    "People talk too damn much for my taste. Yappin' about this or that, when he ought to be eatin', workin', or sleepin'. We know Harley was out late last night. We know she was a little slow on her ride, I mean, that's no front page news! So why talk about it? "
    — Ernest Tucker, 'Pure Country'

    Merry Christmas Joel and the rest of you Fancy Bastards. How about I buy a couple of books and a Star Wars necklace to celebrate!?

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