Saturday, November 21, 2009
There is a scene in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm - one of the five funniest television shows ever - wherein we find our protagonist, Larry David, in a precarious situation.
He is enjoying dinner at a restaurant with his wife.
He knows that he needs to use the restroom.
However, seated near the restroom, in a completely unavoidable position, is an acquaintance with whom Larry does not wish to speak.
Larry does not wish to speak with this man because Larry hates superficial chit-chat/small talk (or the "stop-and-chat" as he's been known to call it), and ultimately he hates it so much that he leaves the restaurant.
He goes next door to a different restaurant to use the restroom, then comes back and finishes his dinner.
Would I ever do this?
Have I ever wanted to do this?
Hundreds of times.
Everyday small-town life is overstuffed with "stop-and-chat" opportunities, many of which I have learned to avoid by employing my dear friend's "duck-and-run" maneuver.
I find "small talk" exhausting.
I have accepted it as a necessary evil, but that does not remove my hatred of it.
So how have you been?
What have you been up to?
What's new in your life?
What are you doing these days?
make me feel tense, anxious, and irritated.
I understand that the spirit in which they are posed is usually one of kindness and genuine concern.
But I still hate them.
I recently saw an old friend from high school, whom I had not seen in more than a decade.
He asked none of those questions.
He simply gave me a warm, lingering hug, told me how great it was to see me, and we both sat back, settled into our restaurant meal, and the conversation simply flowed. We spoke of experiences both old and new; spoke of our families, our friends, and our memories.
If I want to tell you how I've been, what's new, what I'm doing, what I've been up to?
Rest assured, I will.
But frankly, I'd probably rather talk about Curb Your Enthusiasm.