Small talk and I have never been good buddies. I know that small talk is the social chatter that builds bridges to deep friendships. I think my mom must have been good at it. I have memories of listening to the song of women gathered around my mom's table, sharing coffee and conversation. I liked the song. I just could not carry that tune.
Thus, I approached a lunch gathering at the condo we rented when I first retired with fear and trembling. Smile on face. Makeup applied. Avoid holding on to my spouse's shirttail like a kid. There they were. Men jabbering in groups, women at tables, talking, talking, talking. I stood there in a slight panic. I swallowed and sat at a table where I found space.
Names exchanged, I listened. Shoes were on the chatter list. Who bought what shoes, where and when. What sales had begun; what sales were coming. What brands were best; the challenge of getting men to shop for shoes.
Everyone was polite, friendly, inclusive. But they were all able to talk shoe language. I hate to shop. I dislike shopping of all kinds and only buy shoes when mine wear out or don't fit or for a special event. I was tongue tied.
Suddenly I stood up, turned, ran up the flight of stairs to our condo, opened the door, slammed it, leaned against it. I needed to go to foreign language school, learn the art of small talk, or I'd be friendless in the new territory of retired snowbird in Florida.
Knock on the door. It was my spouse, worried, confused, questioning. I can't talk about shoes, I shouted and tears began. He hugged me. We returned. I stayed close to my protector. And I privately vowed to learn how to small talk in order to gain friends.
I am better at it. But not great. And that's the truth.
How are you at small talk? I'd love to know. Do guys struggle with this? Am I the only odd one out in the small talk world?