Out here in the Middle West (as my boy Nick Carraway might say) the last few bits of winter have been quite the roller coaster ride. 60 degree temperatures. Snow. Moonsoon-esque rainfall with biblical flooding. Hellacious wind gusts. Sleet and freezing rain (what’s the difference between the two, anyway?). It’s been more than enough to seriously fuck up a gal’s sinuses, mood and immune system.
But hey! I’ve found a silver lining!
The weather, erratic as it is, has given me – Conversation Assassinator Extraordinaire – nearly unlimited fodder for small talk. I’ve dipped into this well countless times in the past few months. Standing in line for coffee in the break room… simultaneously exiting a bathroom stall with the user beside me and washing our hands in tandem at the sink… checking out at the grocery store and hoping the clerk doesn’t think I have some sort of terrifying health condition / weird decorating fetish because I bought 15 boxes of tampons EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE ON SALE AND IT’S NOT LIKE THEY WON’T GET USED EVENTUALLY.*
All I need to do is glance out the window – or in the general direction of one – make some stupid, throwaway comment about the weather, and BAM! I’ve got ’em twitching with small talk! EVERYONE has an opinion. EVERYONE laughs it off as “Missouri weather.” (SPOILER ALERT: EVERYONE IN EVERY OTHER STATE I’VE LIVED IN HAS USED THE SAME GODDAMN EXPRESSION; cool your jets, all y’all!). EVERYONE eats that crap up like feral cats on Fancy Feast.
Almost everyone, that is. I know that I run the risk of choosing the wrong person with which to converse. We all run that risk any time we open our mouths (which is why I tend to err on the side of selective mutism). One day, my confidence will backfire and I’ll end up on the unpleasant side of a rant about Global Warming or how building permits are issued in flood plains or how Obama ruined America.
Which is not to say I won’t still carelessly, recklessly toss out those errant “Wow, listen to that wind!”s or “Stay dry out there!”s. Because I’m Julie, and what I lack in conversational skill I more than make up for in conversational regret. I’ve lived, but certainly not learned.
*Some broad working at Walgreens once made a comment to me about the amount of feminine hygiene products I was purchasing. Apparently it’s cool to scrimp and save and collect coupons from 85 newspapers to buy Velveeta Shells n’ Cheese in bulk but doing it for lady-supplies is taboo? That shit, even the crappy cancer-filled, Earth-destroying, cardboard crap, gets expensive since, you know, I WILL NEED TO USE IT FOR MOST OF THE REST OF MY NATURAL LIFE.