More and more often I find myself pretending to not see someone rather then engaging in a cheap chat.I am not talking about those cheap chats with absolute strangers at the supermarket or on the bus.Those are the most fun of the conversations.I am talking about the cheap chats with someone you know. More precisely,with someone you know well enough that they feel the urge to stop and talking but do not have actually anything really to talk about.If we have nothing really to say to each other,it is ok. Nothing wrong with that,we don’t necessarily have to engage in conversation. It is not rude.We can just wave at each other and keep going .A simple,”Hi how are you”.No answer expected rather then “fine thanks”, while keep going,it is enough.This is where I stand but,as my mother always says,the world is nice because it is a”variegated” place.Inevitably, there will always be that one person who will engage you in the most odd conversation that makes you feel stupid because,despite all your efforts,you can’t find something particularly intelligent to say.Looking deep into the matter, you probably don’t come up with anything particular intelligent to say, because you don’t have anything particularly intelligent to say.To be honest,most of the time,you are not even interested in what has been told to you either.
After the first five minutes of these forced conversations,I usually totally loose the plot. I stop listening and start wondering in my own mental world.The problem is,that after the long soliloquy of the master cheap chat, my turn comes.I am asked questions and, because I missed most of the conversation,I will be looking like an idiot trying to find something to say that won’t reveal I didn’t listen at one single word that have been told to me. Basically, every time I find myself in front of a professional cheap chatter I have two choices:being rude and walk away or stay and look like an idiot.The second is the most common outcome,as I have been raised a well mannered person.
School gate and the kids activities are the perfect spot for an outbreak of wild and contagious cheap chat. Sunday morning my eldest daughter plays hockey.This year she does it one hour later then last year.It is a nice and quite time,if you can keep away from the cheap chatters.Most of them could really just wave and go but,they don’t. They engage in micro but highly futile and unnecessary conversations.
I usually stay in the car but not always is possible and so,here I am,face to face with the queen of the cheap chat.I really tried to not look like an idiot but this woman can always find the way to trick me.Now you tell me,what is the answer to: “how the new hockey timetable affected the rest of the household?”.Seriously?The big change is that she is now doing hockey from 12.30 to 13.30 instead that from 11.30 to 12.30. I frankly didn’t even think about it. I am desperate to find something clever to say.It is no easy but at the end, I came up with,”oh, it certainly give me more time to get the lunch ready”.Sure it was not the most clever answer but, a good enough little housewife’s answer.Test passed!
The following Sunday,I went more prepared.I pictured so much scenarios in my head and so many possible questions and answers that I felt ready to face the most unnecessary of the conversations.I did my homework and I could stood there head up and totally confident.Well,that is what I thought until I was engaged in conversation by someone who obviously liked the sound of his voice very much and regurgitated an endless series of information I was not the slightest interested on. I politely pretended to listen with interest. To be honest,as long as he was talking,I didn’t have to.Thing that was fine because I didn’t really have anything to say to him.Unfortunately luck doesn’t go on forever:”and you,what ‘s up with you?Plans for the rest of the year?holidays?”.I could feel a series of facial expression passing on my face and not one of them was pleasant or clever but,they were the perfect reflection of the blankness that was going through my mind.Thankfully,at certain point, my brain came alive.With of course the wrong thoughts but,it was alive:”it is January,I didn’t think about summer holidays yet and,frankly,I don’t plan my year ahead…….that is a very stupid question!”,”boy,can you not just say hello how are you and p… off?”.For obvious reasons I couldn’t say what I was thinking and I had to quickly find an excuse to look at my feet and hide my frown that,sure, it would have given me away.Good thing is, I managed to gain some time. I took a big breath and went, “rather then Italy over summer nop,no,plans yet,you?”.An other big mistake.This people have their whole year planned already, week end after week end.I felt claustrophobic on his behalf but, I also felt totally uncool and disorganized. Thankfully,I remembered that I do actually have something planned already and,in advance enough to make me look a bit cooler to his eyes.”I am going to see Roger Waters in concert at the end of June”,I splattered on his face.He was impressed but,most of all,he was delighted to know that I am not living a such precarious life where things are planned last minute.
Now,a question raises spontaneously in my head:what is the real deal with this kind of cheap chats?It is a matter of politeness?It is a way to brag around your life?Or it is a way to know what is going o in someone else’s life?
My vicious mind is prone to say the last two but, I want to give humanity some credit…..someone might just be polite.