I am actually not bad at meeting people. I'm a pretty good conversationalist, and I tend to be able to keep my snark and bitchiness to a minimum, at least for the first few seconds. After that? Well, you know me. I'm all charm.
Which makes me wonder why people seem to feel like they're comfortable sharing the weirdest things with me. I'm not sure what it is about me or just life in general, but people tend to blurt out the most OMFG did you really say that stuff at me apropos of nothing.
For example, TWICE last week while working out, I got blindsided by people who seemed to understand the art of conversation up until that moment when someone - maybe me - had an aneurysm.
Lady: What do you think about the Kwame Kilpatrick trial? Do you think the prosecutor will convict them?
Me: Well, they're facing federal charges, and the feds are generally pretty good about putting together their cases. Of course, it's a jury trial, so you never know what will happen.
Lady: I know. My mother was put on trial for murdering her father and they let her off.
[She walks away. I try not to swallow my tongue. I talked to her later and got the whole story, but what a cliffhanger! I felt like I was on an episode of Days of Our Lives.]
Older Lady: I like your tattoo. Does it say anything?
Me: No. I just drew the design and had it done. Thanks, though.
Older Lady: I'm thinking of getting the name Ralph* tattooed here, on my chest. But I don't like pain.
Me: Well, they're not really painful, but you might be more comfortable getting a tattoo on your arm or something.
Older Lady: Well, I want it on my heart, because Ralph was my husband and he just died 6 months ago.
Me: . . . Oh, I'm . . . I'm so sorry. Wow. Huh. Yeah. Well . . .
[We keep talking and I feel like an ass for being so blase about tattoos when she's suffered a loss and OH MY GOD, LADY, I'M SORRY. Let's get a Sharpie and see if that works.]
I'm offering the following Segue Suggestions in case we're ever in a conversation and you feel like covering one of those topics:
- "I like your tattoo" should be never be followed by news of a loved one's death. That's something you can lead with. Seriously. Don't spend time talking about body fat or pain thresholds.
- Discussing a criminal matter can be redirected with info about your own family, but holy cow, don't drop a bomb and run. FINISH THE STORY.
Oh, who am I kidding? I'm going to talk about gas or poop or my vagina. You can, too.
*Obviously, the guy's name wasn't Ralph. I forgot what it was, though.