Small Talk

I hate small talk.

It’s not that I’m not good at it, in fact I think I can fake it with the best of them. I just don’t get it. It’s a waste of my time and yours. I like to talk about substantial things, mind-blowing things.

I will begin tutoring with a company in Bethesda this summer, and the hiring process involved a four-hour extravaganza of teaching, interviewing, and testing. It turned out to be very enjoyable (and I got the job), but I went in dreading the small-talk I would have to use to fill four hours of my time.

During the actual “interview” portion of my interview, I got some of the usual questions that I answered appropriately, but I was happy to find that my potential co-workers and employers were more interested in the oddball things I list on my resume: coffee, animals, and running. Thankfully (not surprisingly?) no one asked me about the running, since I look and feel out-of-shape right now, but the other two topics made for bearable small-talk.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth with one interviewer with whom I spoke with easily, I heard myself saying, “When you’re driving, do you ever look around and realize all the people around you have the same complexity of thoughts and emotions that you do? They are living their lives, just like we are living ours.”

I don’t remember what led me to say this, but it was somewhat relevant. Thankfully I had read the interviewer correctly, and she excitedly responded that she had thought of that before, and also thought it was pretty mind-blowing.

I like to think of my honesty as charming rather than socially awkward. It’s perhaps also disarming, as it was for my coworker on a midday trip to Tyson’s Corner. Surrounded by a sea of mall-walkers, I made a similar comment as I had to the interviewer. She laughed it off and said “that’s really random,” but I pressed her for a response. It led to a brief but interesting conversation about our place in our world and in the world of others.

Why would I give that up for innumerable conversations about the weather? If you talk to me about the weather, you’re going to get a lot more than you bargained for. Every conversation is a learning opportunity. It’s probably to the point that I am such a pain to make small talk with that most people no longer even start.

Ah, but isn’t that the point?

So next time you ask me if I’m excited about my upcoming (or “impending,” as one guy accidentally said to me) wedding, don’t be surprised when I reply with a cursory “yup!.” What do you expect me to say? I understand that you are giving me an opener to talk about all the emotions I’m feeling or plans that I have made, but just because you offered me the opening doesn’t mean I have to take it. I’m really not trying to be rude, but I’d rather talk about something with a less-obvious answer.

“All done planning?”

“Yup.”

“Wow, really?”

“Yup.”

“Getting nervous?”

“Nope, I’m looking forward to it.”

“You don’t sound like you’re looking forward to it….”

What is someone that is looking forward to their wedding supposed to sound like, exactly? Why does Matt not get the same constant barrage of wedding questions that I do? Just because I’m the female in the relationship does not mean that I’m automatically covering myself in bridal magazines and imagining white lace and Tiffany blue table settings.

It’s going to be great, honestly. I’m really excited to publicly declare my love for Matt in front of most of our friends and family and have a wonderful celebration of our relationship. We’ve really personalized the ceremony and reception, and our families have put in a lot of time and effort to make the day awesome as well. I’m sure we will both cry, and I think that’s really awesome too.

But that doesn’t mean that the rest of my life is on hold until the wedding. I’m still scooping litter boxes, doing laundry, editing documents, and debating what to eat for three meals a day. Living in the future–be it tomorrow or five years from now–does a serious disservice to the present. And to the future as well, as it will never live up to the expectations you’ve set for it.

Curses to Cursive

Right now, I’m procrastinating on addressing our wedding invitations. For those of you unaware (and if you’re unaware, you’re likely not invited, soo…sorry), Matt and I are getting married this May. There are plenty of things I could talk about related to the wedding, but I find the invitations to be worth a writing prompt.

When was the last time you used cursive? When I asked Matt this question he said that, when he is trying to clear his mind at work, he will write the alphabet in cursive to distract himself. I looked up from my hand cramp to tell him he was weird. Other than Matt (and maybe my mom….) I seriously doubt that many people I know personally use cursive regularly.

We didn’t have to adhere to this handwritten invitations tradition; in fact, for our Save-the-Dates, Matt was singlehandedly in charge of printing addresses onto the envelopes to mail out. He even excitedly picked out the font and stamps while I laid on the couch on my laptop going “Sure, honey, looks good.” But his willingness to be in charge of the Save-the-Dates made me all the more convinced that I should perform my womanly duties of handwriting our actual invitations.

These days I’m on the computer most of my waking hours. I have stretches that I do to help with my typing-related injuries. But yesterday, as I huddled over opalescent white pearl envelopes angled with the bottom left corner facing me, I realized I was working muscles that I’ve not really utilized since middle school–the last time I was forced to use cursive.

It’s a strange feeling to realize that your hand is out of shape. I’m not surprised to find other parts of me out of shape (ok that’s a lie too, I’m consistently surprised that I don’t have the same athletic stamina I did five years ago), but my hand? How can my hand be out of shape?

With some states (e.g. Indiana) no longer including cursive as part of their public school curriculum, I’m beginning to wonder what wedding invitations and thank-you notes will look like twenty years from now. I know the latter are a dying breed already, but I can’t help anticipate the bit of nostalgia I will feel when I finally stop receiving things written in cursive.

Of course, part of me also looks forward to telling my own son and/or daughter about the time I had to address 100 inner and outer envelopes in handwritten cursive. Uphill. Both ways.