Perhaps you just arrived here from another place where small talk does not occur very often (such as the polar ice cap, inside a volcano, etc.). Maybe you feel completely lost when a stranger strikes up a conversation with you at Jiffy Lube, maybe you feel socially awkward and have no idea what to say when standing in the Wal-Mart Customer Service/Returns line with the chatty grandmother in her Tweety Bird shirt OR MAYBE you blab your face right off about your collection of belly button lint in the quiet doctor’s office waiting room with a complete, horrified stranger. If any of those descriptions describe you, my friend, perhaps you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself by taking this quiz.
What IS small talk? Small talk usually does not happen by choice and occurs many times with a stranger, a mere acquaintance or a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. It also typically happens unexpectedly, in a very predictable way and around a set number of topics at places like the copy machine at work, while waiting for the dang Starbucks barista to hurry the heck up, community mailboxes. etc. The type of small talk we’re talking about today, class, is the type that is meant to occur in only a few minutes. For example, you are walking out of the grocery store to your car and you happen to see someone you graduated with from high school. You are both carrying three large watermelons each. You have made eye contact, you’ve been asked a question and now must say something. What is it that you say??
#1 How are the kids?
A- Gettin’ big!
B- Well, Little Bill is in soccer and he always makes ALL of the goals. He also is in swimming and is probably on track to win the gold in the next Olympics. He lost his first tooth in September and I think he’s about to lose another one pretty soon! Lookin’ like a Jack-O-Lantern! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Little Earl loves to play with his cars, Star Wars figurines, trains, trucks, blocks, bike, pogo stick, skate board…
C- Growin’ like weeds!
D- Either A or C
#2 Are you sick?
A- No, I am just gettin’ over that stuff that was “going around”. I’m not contagious anymore.
B- No, it’s just allergies.
C- Yes! I have been hacking and hacking and hacking and hacking and blowing my nose and blowing my nose and blowing my nose for DAYS now! The doctor says I am very contagious and that I should probably stay home and drink lots of Gatorade, eat tons of Chicken Noodle Soup and stay far away from anyone that resembles a human… (must stop due to an uncontrollable coughing and sneezing fit that has left you drenched and covered in green goo)
D- Either A or B
#3 Don’t you like this cool weather?
A- Sure do! We could really use some rain, though! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! You should see the bushes in the front yard! They scream out at me every time I go check the mail, “WATER ME, DADDY! WATER ME, DADDY! WATER ME, DADDY! WATER ME, DADDY! WATER ME, DADDY! WATER ME, DADDY!” By the time I sit back down on my big rump and catch up on who’s got chuck roast on sale in the paper, I’ve already forgotten about those dern bushes. We haven’t even started talking about the back yard and the way those crape myrtles moan and groan…
B- Yes! It was great getting our jackets back out again.
C- You betcha!! I drive around everywhere with the windows down.
D- Either B or C
#4 Did you see that game last night?
A- Yes! Wasn’t that play at the end awesome?
B- ***************CRICKETS******************** (clears throat) *****************CRICKETS******************* (faints)
C- No, I didn’t get to watch it. What happened?
D- Either A or C
#5 Are you going to vote today?
A- On my way!
B- You know it!
C- VOTE??? Are you kiddin’ me??? My vote doesn’t cay-yownt! I bet they’ll count the votes hwrong eeenyway. ‘member those “cha-yads” back in the Gore/Bush election?? “Swinging cha-yads”, even??? I tell you what I feel like swinging- a bat at all them votin’ booths! Nobody leestens to what I’m saying no way! What? They’re all electronic now? Computers. Give me a break. I bet they go in and mess up our votes somehow or ‘nother. No, no…votin’ ain’t ferrrr me! I’m going to sit RAHT here and watch the “PRAHS EES RAHT” all afternoon long, pard’ner, and I don’t won’tchu geevin’ me heck ’bout it neither!
D- Either A or B
If you didn’t answers all D’s, you may need to consider going in for some Official Small Talk Training that I will be offering at your local community center next month.
Lemme know if I should look for you.