It has been a while since I have engaged in small talk. Winter is here and there is none of the ‘getting to know you but really your kids’ chat bandied about in the playground because we scurry home before the sun sets and the temperature drops to below freezing in a blink. I never socialized much before I was married-with-kids and now do so even less. Apparently, small talk is a skill that rusts over when it is not used frequently. Sort of like the head waggle (which I tried to teach ZP yesterday) or sleeping through the night.
I attended a friend’s reception by myself the other night (sans hubby and kids) and met a whole bunch of new folks – a whole bunch of very young, very familiar with each other, very sprightly folks. I had forgotten how to answer simple questions such as “what do you do?” (old answer: “I’m an attorney with the US Patent and Trademark Office”; new answer: “petty bureaucrat”), “where do you live?” (DC. No, not the one in Virginia. Nope, not in Maryland either. The other one.), “where are you from originally?” (Jeffersonville/Louisville/St. Louis but I’ve been here for fifteen frakkin’ years now!), “who are you?” (nobody, really, let me eat my walnut-stuffed dates and drink my chai and go!). Even harder were the on-the-spot questions that require a lengthy response which I have not yet learned to tailor.
Example: “So, how do you know [the bride]?” Real answer: “Well, I had a blog and another girl had a blog and we became blogging buddies and then we became flickr buddies and she “introduced” me to one of her flickr buddies and one day, that buddy sent an email out to everyone asking if anyone could help out her sister who was moving to DC. I said, ‘yes’.” New answer: “It’s a long story.”
Example: (after the invariable discussion about the differences between patents and trademarks) “Do you have any cool trademark applications you can talk about?” Real answer: “I have been dubbed “The Cheese Queen” for my ability to draw cheese-related marks and for my stellar and persuasive cheese-related briefs I wrote for the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.” New answer: “Hunger Games”.
Example: “Why are you leaving so early?” Real answer: “I’ve been up since before dawn, getting my family organized and out the door, working, doing laundry, getting groceries, paying the bills, ordering stuff, cancelling stuff, cooking, cleaning, and maintaining a household.” New answer: “I have two kids.”