Published in The Ferndale Record, June 25, 2014
Some people are natural conversationalists. They know how to crank up the energy of a chat and keep it flowing. Others among us are less talented and need guidance as to what constitutes pleasant, meaningful, or especially appropriate engagement with others.
What some consider icebreakers are actually conversation killers, usually shared by those who can’t wait to see the reaction they’re going to get. These subjects will torpedo any friendly banter you thought you had with another person. Because even though he may appear to be politely listening, what you can’t see is the shudder in his soul.
The following is a brief tutorial and may or may not apply to you or anyone you know.
Here are some things nobody wants to hear about:
What your dog ate. Anyone with an imagination can come up with an answer to this.
Don’t talk about a lump the size of a grapefruit they removed from your uncle. This story is usually whipped out around the time a waiter brings the appetizers.
How you bought underpants at 75% off at Goodwill. While your ability to sniff out a bargain is admirable we don’t need the visual.
We don’t want to know details about the foot fungus you picked up on your trip to India.
Please do not refer to the color, shape, or texture of anything you, or anyone you’ve ever known, has emitted from a bodily orifice—with the possible exception of the time you gave birth to a baby. We would like to know basic details concerning the baby. But only the basics, please.
What you found growing on your teenage son’s bathmat. It doesn’t matter to anyone if it’s science, nature or just filthy. Don’t talk about it.
People don’t want to hear about how no one appreciates you at work. We’ve all been there.
Don’t mention that time you did karaoke when you were drunk, or information concerning your comprehensive collection of old TV Guides.
Nothing about how your friend’s mother’s cousin knows a person who married someone famous, or the biology behind your tendency to sweat profusely when you’re nervous.
Skip the intimate details of pig farming, or the way you personally remove unwanted hair from your nose or ears. Also, please say nothing about the mating habits of insects, farm animals or your pets. If you were raised on a farm this may be excellent tinder for conversation in some circles, but not in most.
Other subjects that most people are not interested in: Embalming methods and preferences, how your bicycle seat doesn’t line up with your crotch, why you do or do not have abundant hair in certain places on your body, the IQ of your child or grandchild, the joys of snake-handling, specific issues concerning your septic tank woes, the exact size of the spider you found in your bathtub, what hot dogs and sausages are really made of, and anything you do in the bathroom.
The next time you begin a fascinating story and say, “Hey! Did I ever tell you about (insert cringe-worthy topic here)?” stop and think, and then please don’t.
This has been a public service. You’re welcome.