Making Conversation



Suggested Audio Candy:


[1] Simon & Garfunkel “The Sound of Silence”

[2] Eurythmics “Here Comes The Rain”



I have never been particularly good at making conversation. Give me a quill and I shall blather on until the cows come home to graze but place a microphone in my hand and I am likely to freeze on the spot with eyes glazed over in a blank expressionless stare. I think the real problem has always been small talk; the kind of lightweight time-passing froth we would ordinarily engage in when on a first date. There is such thing as a comfortable silence but I seemed to fare better with the uncomfortable ones. After a certain amount of time muted the pressure mounts and so does the likelihood of uttering something vastly ridiculous. By a certain point my thoughts become wiped clean like etch-a-sketch and I’m left with nothing. Nothing to stop my opposite number considering me potentially the dullest man in existence; nothing to suggest there is in fact anything whatsoever behind the eyes. The moment I discern tumbleweed, it is time to make my excuses and run to the hills before the words “you’re actually rather boring aren’t you?” are vocalized and my fate sealed.


It astonishes me that the very same brain responsible for such passionate rants on such a frequent basis can suddenly draw such a blank. It is often commented that there is a lot of rare shit bouncing around inside my top box and that’s all well and good but where is it when I need it most? The reason it is in such unbounded supply is that it hasn’t yet calculated a path through my lips. In that respect I guess the inside of my head is something like Las Vegas; once inside there are no signposted exits and only row upon row of slot machines. Even if I’m fortunate enough to get a row of Lucky 7’s I’m only ever paid out in chips and the currency is not taken anywhere else so I end up blowing my stash at the roulette wheel. Whoever said always bet on black has some explaining to do let me tell you. Fortunately, with a head like Vegas, I frequently receive visitation of the Blue Man Group and Celine Dion often sets up her mic stand around where my frontal lobe is positioned. But it’s just too hectic for my liking and I’m sick and tired of whitewashing my cerebellum because it looks like The Smurfs have wanked off in my cranium.


Silence can be golden. There are times when words would simply spoil a moment and we are requested to let our bodies do the talking on our behalf. Sex I have found to be one such occasion. Ordinarily one’s partner prefers silence and dimmed lights as they are too busy imagining Ryan Gosling feeding them a length to be sidetracked by your own whiny voice. Small talk is definitely out; the last time I commented on the pile of dishes left by the sink during coitus, it didn’t go down at all well and the dishes never got done to boot. Best just to focus on your stride and climactic cum-face if you wish to slide out with any remaining dignity. If you really must scratch that itch then “I’m going to jizz on your tits” is preferable to a mid-afternoon weather report or embittered rant over Cheetos packets containing more air than cheese puffs nowadays. Besides, the Cheetos tiger is a cool collected customer and will likely steal your girlfriend given half the chance. Don’t trust him; behind those shades is a cat with no scruples.


Another bad time to wax lyrical is when asleep. You may be the best in the world at keeping secrets but loose lips have been known to sink the odd galleon and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. I’m okay on this count as anything which leaves my mouth during my forty winks is invariably gibberish and harder to translate than a Lebanese phone directory. Similarly, those first few speech bubbles out of my flappers in the morning are gobbledygook also. Until that primary caffeine shot I start the day much akin to Marlee Matlin. A simple sentence becomes nigh-on impossible to pronounce and all my attentions are invested in successful navigation of my early morning Scout Walker legs. Once that first coffee bean jump starts my engine; I spring to life and my tongue untangles for the duration. That’s not to say I use it; but it’s there should I necessitate such.


Putting the foot in one’s mouth is a pastime I have negated to practice. However, from time-to-time-to time again, I have ended up with more toes in my mouth than Madonna in the nineties. It’s a knack, nay a talent, to say the wrong thing and one which has landed me in some rather hot water. Part of it comes from losing my filter; until recently I was careful not to speak my mind as it usually required a good hose down. Since recovering from my mid-life crisis; anything is fair game and speaking comes before thinking with worrying frequency. If I engaged in a threesome when I was twenty then perhaps my mother isn’t the best person to brag about it with. At best she will be disappointed and, at worst, she will reminisce herself about one such forgotten autumn dusk behind a dumpster in Queens. Some conversations are best had with oneself and mom isn’t necessarily the word. Perhaps it is this which has earned me my muzzle at family gatherings; while they sit around chewing the fat I am sat in the corner like Baby masticating my own gums.


Sometimes all we wish to hear is a well done. A pat on the back and a nod of acknowledgement can transform a deathly dull day at the office into a slightly happier deathly dull day at the office. Yet nobody bats an eyelid when you clear your inbox before lunchtime; often we are all so wrapped up in our own little worlds to spot others juggling crockery. If I receive excellent service when sitting down for a meal then I make it my business to inform management that Candy made my dining experience more pleasurable. This isn’t because she isn’t wearing a bra, although that would be a reason for commendation. It is because she actually cares about making your stay comfortable, whether blatantly banking on a tip or otherwise. The nipples thing is just a happy accident. Paying it forward is a stellar way to utilize your characters; spreading smiles in the knowledge that Candy may well see fit to reciprocate in kind. Even if she doesn’t, you’ve done your bit.


I always found it troublesome remaining muted in libraries. It’s like a tick; what better place to achieve dramatic effect by blurting out that you have sprouted a third testicle? The old lady at the front desk won’t thank you and you’ll likely receive a spirited sssh for your troubles. But you will have broken the silence and communal exhalation will follow soon afterwards as the remainder of your addressees thank you. The cinema, on the other hand, offers a far less forgiving clientele. I have been forced to endure aimless blathering on many occasions whilst enjoying the latest sci-fi epic in the multiplexes. It grinds my gears terribly, especially given the fact that a simple popcorn grab seems such a risky endeavor. It gets even worse in your home; asking what happened in a previous scene may offer you enlightenment but also guarantees you missing the following three, hence the cycle perpetuating. After thirty minutes of running commentary it can grow a little tiresome. Here’s a thought – why not pay attention in the first fucking place? Just a thought.


Then of course we have the shit-talkers. Everyone remembers that one kid in school, likely named Biff, who likes to throw his weight around. For whatever reason, Biff feels it necessary to prove himself every time you cross paths in the hallway by reminding you that “I’ll knock you into next week if you don’t surrender your loose coinage.” Well, guess what Biff? In seven days time, when you’re least expecting it, I’ll be waiting with a haymaker of my own so thanks for the heads up. Fuck the Biffs of this world; taking it out on us measly mealworm when our only goal is to reach our lockers without being force-fed our undergarments via rectum. How very dare you! I’ve known plenty of Biffs in my time and the astonishing thing is that most of them don’t see the error in their ways and continue letting their fists do the talking their whole lives. Even more disconcertingly they end up impregnating their long-suffering spouses and thus we have to endure countless mini-Biffs beating up our children too as the cycle perpetuates itself.


Some people love nothing more than the sound of their own voice and you’re only ever there to make up the numbers in such instances. Any attempt to finish a sentence will invariably prove fruitless as they will have cunningly maneuvered themselves into the driving seat and the topic will be back on them before you can realize you’ve been soundly stymied. So much to say and so little of it even vaguely relevant. It’s the reason the deaf ear was invented and reason to hold off on getting your ears syringed. Once the addressees eyes glaze, you can be sure that we are off with the pixies and have engaged auto pilot. Occasionally it is important to put the pixies on the back burner and offer a nod just to prevent them starting over. Even though they told you the exact same anecdote yesterday, it doesn’t deter them from recapping. I have news for you numbskulls; your athlete’s foot story doesn’t mature with age. It just makes me question why you haven’t yet added a lotion. And no it doesn’t mean that you’re athletic.


I love to talk nowadays. The reason for this is that I don’t bore myself rigid like I did until I located my voice-box and changed it to the correct setting. I still get nervous like the next man and will never be quite as cool as I dreamed as an adolescent but I will always shoot from the soul. In addition my lips are also rather well-versed in kissing and I can hold a tune to boot so it isn’t all doom and gloom. If I pucker up then it isn’t always because the moment has whisked me away. Sometimes it is the only way to halt me from running off at the mouth. I have decided to continue talking for the foreseeable; who needs collagen when daily exercise can have you looking like Meg Ryan in no time? I can’t guarantee that what I say will be any of the following: funny, clever, not pointless. But I do stand behind every word. It’s just that the ones on paper are so much more interesting.


Click here to read The Great Human Condition






  1. Fun read and I couldn’t agree much more. I’m not the world’s biggest talker either. It seems my brain detaches once the lips start flappin’. Alcohol is a cure… to a point.

  2. I find such solace in the fact that the two of us will NEVER stop talking, nor laughing, nor singing Swedish Chef style to thrash, matter, what…..
    I wish to hear every minute particle of thought that passes through that cranium of yours, indefinitely…..

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