Friday, November 04, 2005

Talk Talk Talk

Want a decent conversation? Start talking to strangers.

Not chat room strangers, real ones. Strangers on the street. On the subway. In the diner.

We’ve been told that the art of conversation is dead. Not even close. The art of conversation is alive and well. It’s just that your friends are boring and your relatives have ulterior motives.

Let’s rewind that for a moment. Your friends aren’t necessarily boring. But you know their rap and they know yours. It’s like having the same conversation over and over again.

And your relatives -- well, maybe they DON’T have ulterior motives. But you know that there are certain things you can’t discuss with them, lest you raise points that’ll never be solved and that will just cause everyone grief.

So do this New York thing: horn in on a convo. If you’re REALLY not welcome, you’ll find out soon enough. The conversers whose territory you’ll be invading will give you the Dark Glare Of Death. Or they’ll just tell you to shove off.

Most people are too polite for that.

Plus, we humans are social beings, even most of the sociopaths among us, and thus are willing to talk with anyone about anything.

Just don’t be like the Oysters in “Alice In Wonderland.” They tried to stop a fight between the Walrus and the Carpenter, and ended up becoming dinner after the combatants resumed rationality.

Other than that… there’s all kinds of fun and interesting stuff that can happen among people who don’t know each other and assume they will never again meet.

The other day at a restaurant, Iron Grey Joe was waxing poetic about the mayor of the city of New York.

In the midst of his poetic endorsement of said mayor’s re-election, he said something outrageously untrue. So, he got corrected. The conversation then doubled to include two tables of diners instead of one.

It would have been nice to continue. But Iron Grey Joe and his poetic wax suffered a seizure or stroke or heart palpitation, and attention was turned suddenly and permanently to getting the cops and the ambulance on site and Joe to the hospital.

This is not a typical end to one of these horn-in-on-the-conversation conversations. Usually, you end up learning something and teaching something.

The opportunities for good talk, good learning and good teaching are endless, especially if there’s no ulterior motive.

If one of these happens at a pick up bar, it will be less spontaneous and more stilted than if it happens while waiting for the light to turn green.

We, remember, are as boring and same-subject as our friends and as touchy as our relatives. The way to have a fresh start every day is to … well, start fresh every day. Or every other day. Or even every week.

The art of conversation is not dead. It’s just sick, and lacks health insurance.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2005


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John G said...

Having a seizure, stroke or heart attack during a conversation with a stranger is rude if it's faked. You could have had the last word (maybe literally) by telling the apparent victim, "I don't get heart attacks, I give them."

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