You Can’t Change the Weather, But You Can Change the Subject*

*Advice I should have taken five prontos ago.

Society has deemed the classic small talk topics to be weather and sports (i.e., the Jurassic but well-intentioned “How bout dem Yankees?” or the earnest soulwrencher “How great has this weather been?”). Everyone jokes about these goodies because they’re the lowest (of the low) common denominators of conversation. In fact, they’re so universally accepted as not-big-deals that people will even throw them around sarcastically in verbal battles with good friends just to unnecessarily communicate how very comfortable they are with themselves in acknowledging awkwardness that may or may not have actually occurred.

How about that new local weatherteam?!
photo courtesy of Flickr and CarbonNYC

Here’s the thing though. Some of us wouldn’t even be allowed to socialize with other humans without small talk. Case in point: me. So I take it pretty darn seriously. My half-arsenal doesn’t even have space to accommodate the wide berth of two subject areas because, let’s be grimly honest, sports takes time, enthusiasm, and mild research. Weather just requires leaving the house occasionally. Even just once every few days is enough. In fact, for the love of cumulonimbus (the real purdy ones), a window will do just fine.

I hope there isn’t a snow day, because I’m snow banking on some real gems of verbal exchanges on the morrow!!
photo courtesy of Flickr and foto3116

The point to which I’ve used the weather as fodder for any and all informal conversations with my office coworkers is beyond acceptable. It’s the only thing I will in fact allow myself to talk about in the company of all except my inner circle (i.e., my BFF Mr. Fax Machine). I feel my mouth open, and I immediately run through the temperature stats for the past few days, decide whether I should focus on local or national coverage, consider any and all recent global national disasters (poor taste, but there’s more than a few to choose from), and decide whether precipitation should be a starter subject or a winder-down. I actually get excited when the temperatures suddenly shift, especially if it gets cold (I mean, I thought this was summer, people!) because I’ll have something to jibber about in the break room. Sometimes I’ll even just shout some recent weather trivia (i.e., 30% chance of brisk rain on Saturday!) at someone to show that I’m prepared and ready should they choose to engage with me.

Prematurely gray sky? Well, actually, I knew this was going to happen. That weird girl at work predicted it.
photo courtesy of Flickr and romulusnr

But it doesn’t end there. I will actually dominate the conversation so that the person cannot take credit for any of the weather knowledge or factfinding that I am so diligent about. If they try and hint at something, I will brashly suggest otherwise. As in, “ha! I’m pretty sure you mean a drizzle, not a downpour, my dear Carol…It is Carol, right?” Or “Hey Steve, be safe driving home! Limited visibility. Chance of fog. That’s my boy!” I don’t know what I’m trying to prove really, but I think I’ve proven something else entirely. Something else, indeed. I am.

No, You Have a Great Day!

I can’t stop documenting convos. Oh well, to each his own vice.

I walked into the kitchen this morning, announcing my presence with a hearty “SHABBA DOOO!”

Not a second or two had passed before I heard a buoyant “SHABBA DOO!” in response from the study (step off, my parents have a study. 8 out of 10 Colonel Mustards prefer it to the conservatory).

“Hey!” I said. It’s rare to find a friend so early in the day.

Not only was it a friend; it was my dad!

“Yes?” He inquires, a little too readily, still faceless, working in the study.

“SHABBA DOO?” I question.

“Yes, Shabba Doo.” He says definitively. “What does it mean?”

“SHABBA DOO?” I inquire, “Well, I can’t say exactly.”

“Well, it sounds good. SHABBA DOO!” He states decidedly, trying it out once again with his own tongue.

“Yes it does, doesn’t it? SHABBA DOOOO!!!!!!!”

I live with my parents because not only do they harbor me, they also harbor the furry monsters who live in my brain.

the shabba doo face
photo courtesy of Flickr and Doonvas

Speaking of all that is shabba doo, this is excellent. Thanks to The Hillz for the tip.

My Car Likes Being Driven Around, Li-tow-rally

o hai everyone.

i’m here. i’ve been here all day, don’t lookit me like that! where have you been?

life continues to befundle me. that’s a new word. befuddle means confuse. fun means diversion.

befundle means confuse with amusement, or perhaps bemuse with funfusion.

anyway, my car-ma continues to bite the huge one.

my car, the very same car i lost (nay, misplaced) for 4 hours on saturday, broke down yesterday.

went on strike. whatever. same deal. on the first actually cold day of the year, it straight up announced “movement? overrated!”

i was in the fastest lane on the parkway, and suddenly accelerating merely became a figure of speech.

yello, car? watchoo doin’?

screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-cha! gweeeeeeeee-cha rarararararruhruhruhruh squeeeeeee heeheheeee teeheehehe hahahahoo *silence*

that’s cute, car. no but seriously. not funny. are you in neutral? because i bet that’s what’s going on. i accidentally put you in neutral. hahah oh ho you’re right let’s laugh! good one! let’s just see here…oh wait, car?

squeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….yes?

you’re not in neutral. you’re in drive.

i know.

but you’re not going. you are slowing!

sorry?

i saaaaaaid you’re not going and there is a car approaching behind you and me at breakneck speed.

rururururuhruhruh–no i was apologizing. but it’s true, you’re right, i’m not going.

car!

yes?

what do i do?

i suggest you pull over.

to this scenic viewpoint?

why yes, i would enjoy a lookit the sunset over the river, thanks.

(several slightly disoriented phonecalls in the darkness later)

enter: el tow truck
driven by: the most perfect stereotype of a tow truck driver that i could have imagined — flat top hair cut, burly, all-american, not a big talker, (according to the rules of stereotypecasting) looks like he probably enjoy football, beer and meat, ideally all together…he also looked like he knew a lot about cars (teehahahah)

he doesn’t say much. gets right down to the business of towing. i ask lots of questions because by this point i’m tired, disheartened, lonely, and i just want the tow truck driver to be my friend.


el towtruckus magnificus in all its flashingy lighty glory
photo courtesy of Flickr and Lottery Monkey

i learned pretty quickly the tow truck driver had no interest in being my friend or even acquaintance, and was much more interested in getting to know my car than me.

then the mundane horror started. we had to drive to the shop to drop off the car.

i get in the tow truck bracing myself for the awkwardness i knew would inevitably ensue. half an hour (at the least) of material with which to converse with a tow truck driver?! i was thinking, i barely have 30 seconds! i thought maybe i should do some crowdwork but i didn’t know what to ask him.

weather? never!
sports? i’d incriminate myself.
car talk? hahahaha. good one.
WHAT ELSE DO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT?!

(i was even considering fun facts about the beef industry but i don’t think i could survive being thrown from a moving vehicle)

his radio is super-ironically playing “american man” followed by generic country crooning followed by “play that funky music, white boy.”

i try and ask some questions. make some smallest talk but he’s not biting. you can hear crickets praying. so finally i try looking out the window pensively.

he finally offers up, “so were you on your way home?”

“no actually…” i offer greedily.

but his abrupt “oh” cuts off any condiments with which i could have flavored my answer.

i start beaming him extreme please like me requests like a fanciful teenager trying to express a shoutout to Mr. Daly on TRL via mind control, but just then things turned right ugly.

we bumped into some traffic on the highway. “what the hell!” he exclaims angrily. i sat up! this man is capable of emoting!

as if on cue, he started yelling at someone on his radio about ‘why would ralphie give him an SUV without the proper pick-ups?’ and so on and so forth nonsense.

WAIT. no more yelling! stop the yelling!

finally just as we’re pulling off the highway and into the blessed destination….he quietly announces “cellphones are the worst invention ever.”

and i chimed in with a hearty “MMhMM” of solidarity similar to a church congregation in enthusiasm. i even raised my arms slightly in praise.

in conclusion, i think for a split second, we were best friends.

my car and i meanwhile are still not speaking. mainly because he’s at the shop. POOR Buhbuhbuhbuhbay-BY. i’m afraid my parents are gonna send him to the glue factory after this latest hinkypoo (descended from a long line of hinkypoos).

Telepathos – The Little Convo That Couldn’t

photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Paper

One of the most mentally painful states in life is being bored.

One of the most virulent forms of this pain is being on the receiving end of a phonecall where the other person will not stop talking. Now I’m not even saying they’re monopolizing the conversation (even though they are), but rather, they just want to keep it going by any means necessary. Like they’re winning bonus points from some vengeful god for keeping you suspended in a whirlwind of drudge and banality.

And then, at one point you realize, maybe you actually liked this person once. But whatever they have now become is no longer tolerable. You can forget the big-picture. You can even forget tomorrow. Right now. Right now, you need to hear a dial tone, anything to stop the internal sobbing of your thought process.

Just as you start to regain some mental acuity, you hear it: the beginning of another anecdote…”Oh, so did I tell you about the time I…?” NO, for the love of all that is fuzzy and pure and can’t talk back, please, dear God, NO! Not another self-absorbed tale of 10, 15, 20 years, minutes, seconds ago.

“Oh, so, remember that time I opined about absolutely nothing for an indeterminate time span? Watch me do it again!”

(My ears start bleeding)

You try everything. The non-committal ‘yup.’ The extended pausations. The clearing of throat. You give throwaway answers like “Oh, really” or “That’s interesting.” Nothing. Their ability to keep a two-person phone dialogue going seems to be impregnable to both monotone and apathy. Finally, when it seems like the power went out at the end of the tunnel, there is a break.

“How about you?”

Oh sorry, you must have mistaken me for the person who was listening. You’ve got the wrong girl! So you prattle off some nonsense and fundamentally break all your resolutions to be a candid person. They lay on a few compliments (“Oh well, nothing like youuuu though…), and the guilt factor is out of control. You try to start listening. And the crippling omnipresent conclusion surfaces.

Once upon a time you were a different person who talked for hours about these types of things. And it’s just not the same anymore.

“Well, I think I’m going to go to bed soon, hon…”

Salvation. And they said there would be no second coming.

Phone-y Business, on a Cellular Level

Isn’t it mildly amusing how when someone’s on the phone and you’re in the vicinity, sometimes they include your presence in their conversation? Or they make phone faces at you?

For instance, if someone’s on the phone with their friend on the subway train and they’re saying something like “Ohhhhhhh shit” and then they’re telling their friend “Haha, everyone on the train thinks I’m crazy” and I look around and no one seems to even notice the presence of the whole conversation. Then i think “Liar.”

photo courtesy of Ergocise

Or there’s the instances where someone’s on the phone and they’re making I’m dying of boredom faces at you. I realize that when I’m the one making the faces, I get so wrapped up in “playing the bit” of the sinfully bored one to some impartial spectator that I forget about my phone conversation, and the person on the other end is always saying “Hello? Hello?” and meanwhile I’m rolling my eyes and busy mouthing “Whyyyy do theeeey keeeep talkkking?” The sad part is sometimes I do this when I’m all by myself. To my mirror. Wait! It’s not sad. I mean, quite possibly in a realistic sense it is, but as to the state of affairs that constitute my life, it is, how do you say, ah yes, zee norm.