What are you doing these days?

23 03 2009

I had a few awesome conversations this past weekend.  I also had one or two of the so-so conversations that we all dread.  For your convenience, I’ve listed a few basic tactics you can use to respond to the dreaded catching-up conversations we all face.  I’ve tried all of them, and there are certainly some that I have forgotten to add.  Either way, it’s well worth your time to peruse the list.  My time, I mean.

  1. The Brush Pass:  Named after the staple tactic of CIA and Google agents everywhere, this method involves subtle but clear communication of the desire to remain silent.  No real interaction or conversation is desired or even prudent, and a quick “not much, just working and hanging out” usually fits the bill.  If the person making conversation persists in their search for details, you may have to move on to a different tactic.
  2. The Norm MacDonald:  Needing no real explanation of its title, this approach usually has the effect (ala Dirty Work ) of completely repulsing any decent person through an outlandish and abhorrent claim.  For instance, “Where are you working now?”  “I work at the baby meat processing plant.”  “The…what?”  “I kill and process children for mass consumption.  I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.”   If your aggressor insists of laughing this tactic off, you will then need to move on to yet another step.
  3. The Chuck Norris:  While actually punching and kicking people has a good success rate, this one is a little more metaphorical.  One must karate chop the annoying conversationalist with umistakable hints about how painful this conversation has grown to you.  “Do you enjoy your job at the…”baby processing plant” ha ha ha?”  “Yes.  I do.  It’s the only place where I know I won’t have to waste time making small talk with random people all day.”  Then you just stare them down and continue to answer any further questions with an increasingly painful delay.  Which leads me to…
  4. The Deep Blue:  Just like a chess computer, you must know your move before the opponent has finished their part of the conversation.  The greatest part of this strategy, however, is that you can use your preparedness to pretend like answering their questions is extremely difficult for you.  Four to six seconds of blank staring before firing off an intentionally labored response can really weaken their defenses.  Just make sure that you don’t overact, as some simian-types may mistake your pauses for thoughtful intervals, and be flattered by your intense effort to come up with worthy conversation fodder.  However, if they insist on carrying the conversation despite your signals, you will have to launch the peacekeeper missile of conversational tactics…
  5. The iPhone:  You know who they are.  They’re always looking something up, checking their email, or updating their status on the Facebook.  While we all resent these obnoxious people for their mindless tapping and sliding, the basic principles of the iPhone forcefield are there for the taking.  Simply put, one must always show blatantly greater interest in anything at one’s disposal other than the conversation partner.  If you have some change, not-so-surreptitiously jingle it and inspect the quarters for interesting state mottos.  If you have shoelaces, immediately un-tie and re-tie both of them.  Read any inscriptions or food labels in your immediate vicinity and check any accessible clothing labels (yours or not) for possibly intriguing combinations of cashmere and polyester.  While the offender will undoubtedly be insulted by your ostensibly rude behavior, they will think their time too valuable to be wasted on someone as petty as you.  In other words, mission accomplished.



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