I’m a terrible small talker. Like, really, really terrible.
If I walk into a situation where a small group of people might be standing and chatting, my palms become sweaty and my heart begins to beat like it used to after I finished my leg of the 4×800 relay. (And my relay team was really good, so that’s saying something.) I marvel at people who are able to stand in small groups and talk about everything and nothing at all.
Just yesterday, for example, I was sitting on the sidelines of Chanelle’s soccer game. I sat next to Chad with my eyes on the game. (Because if I look at someone in the eye I just might have to come up with something clever to say and, well, clever I am not.) I sat and watched Chanelle chase a soccer ball up and down a field with several other girls her age and I heard a group of women talking together just down field. I heard them discussing various topics such as school, their children’s schedules, and other various topics with ease. I sat in awe of these women who could so easily do something that I am virtually incapable of doing. I leaned close to Chad and gestured toward the small group of women and commented, I just cannot do that. Do what, he asked? Small talk, I told him. I’m incapable of small talk, I reported, as if he didn’t already know. He just smiled and turned his attention back to the game. Apparently, he wasn’t sitting on the sidelines analyzing himself against all the other parents sitting there. (Sorry, Chanelle.)
I remember a night, several years back, when Chad and I went out to dinner with good friends of ours. We sat at dinner, with these good friends and there was a lot of laughter and easy chatter about, well, nothing. I sat, a bit quiet, and watched Chad and our friends talk and laugh and all I could think was, what’s wrong here? Why aren’t we talking about important things? Something must be wrong. What’s going on? On the way home Chad and I had a conversation that went something like this. . .
Chad: That was fun.
Me: Yeah, I guess.
Chad: What’s wrong?
Me: Nothing. It’s just that, well, we didn’t really talk about anything important. I don’t really know how they are doing. You know, like really.
Chad: (a bit perturbed at me) Summer! Everything doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful! Sometimes, people just want to have fun. Relax. Every conversation doesn’t have to be about how people are. . . really.
Now this came as a complete surprise to me. I sat in the dark car while Chad drove home from the restaurant and tried hard to digest this new information. I sat there feeling a bit cheated and certain that I must have missed that class during high school. There were those three days when I was sick with the flu my junior year, is that when they taught this? I wondered. Certainly that lesson would have served me much better than the Linear Equations I was forced to endure and obviously use every day of my adult life.
Chad tells me I need to learn how to diversify myself. You need to be able to small talk, he tells me. (He’s really good at it..) I try, I really do. After I get past the weather, though, I’m pretty useless. . .
Nice weather we’re having, isn’t it. . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
Yep. that’s about all I’ve got.
Perhaps I should learn how better talk “small”. Maybe I should learn more about sports, the weather, pop culture and current events. I’m sure I should. (Certainly, that would make my husband very happy.)
Still, I’m beginning to embrace that this is just how I was made–or how I grew (whichever you prefer). Chad loves sports. I couldn’t care less about things involving a ball. My sister loves to cook. I enjoy the microwave. My friend Katy looks for any reason to gather with a group of people. I’d rather visit the dentist. I write really personal things on the world wide web. Most people think this is completely insane.
It takes all kinds, doesn’t it?
The beauty of the world often lies in our differences, not our similarities. I so often see beauty in the things that make people unique, not our commonalities. As much as I’d like to banter back and forth about pop culture and sports, I may not ever be that person. I will more likely, continue to stammer and sweat and mutter something like looks like rain when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Later I will tell Chad about it and we will feel sorry for the victim of my uncomfortable weather report and then we will laugh because I was made this way.
The beauty is found in our differences. . . I’m choosing to celebrate them.
(Unless, Chad would say, you like country music. . . well, that’s just unacceptable.)
Speaking of weather, it stormed this weekend. . .
Yep, that’s all I’ve got.