…At The Grindstones

{May 1, 2010}   I’ll take you up on that!

Ever feel like you make someone completely uncomfortable?  Every now and then I find myself in a social situation- for example – a “house party” invited by a”friend” who then proceeds to continue on as if I had never arrived. I’m not asking for full their attention, but whatever happened to decent introductions to the people next to them- the old “pawn off” onto someone they think you might get along with as opposed to a full fend for yourself in someone elses social network- with it’s own built in rules and where everyone knows someone but you.

So whatever happened to small talk? It seems like these days there is an attitude or certain groups of people who are “too cool” for it which is completely ridiculous. It’s like this new online social database and web-stalking are supposed to be our sources of info- as if we are supposed to study for social situations now. I personally don’t see anything wrong with asking someone what they do with themselves day-to-day, if they went to school, what for, what their passion is etc.

At the same time, I’m not going to approach certain people to even bother with them. Some people- we just know we won’t get along with.. that day.. and sometimes we can tell if it’s an “ever” situation. I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for taking a moment by myself at a gathering so I don’t have to hustle painfully for an uninteresting conversation from someone that I don’t click with. So I’ll creepily people watch. I’ll enjoy the interactions. Not for too long but just enough time to eye the next person that I want to talk to and make my way over.

Back to my first question. A social enigma. Not even. There’s this thing that happens, where people will use phrases like

-We should absolutely hang out!


-I’d have done that for you.

-You should come along!

-Yeah, drop by!

– If you need anything, just let me know..

Etc. Sometimes we mean it, sometimes we mean it and know it will never happen, sometimes we say it but don’t mean it, to be polite.. Here’s what I do. I call people on it. Sometimes I’ll even warn them, “Be careful I might take you up on that!”

What I love- is the shock on their face and in their voice when you do call them on it and cash in. What are they going to do about it? I feel like, in situations where they “never meant it” or “didn’t think there would come a time when..” that we are throwing them off by taking them for their word- which is something that I would hope most people would be able to do but of course we play games and that is not the case. Anyway, these people will seem so put off by your presence.. especially when you find your “people” in their “people” and end up having a decent time..

Let me clarify- the whole reason we call these people out is because we do think that they are awesome and do want to get closer to them. But if they aren’t interested, and you can find some joy or learn something new in the otherwise weird situation and learn from it.. may as well..

It’s a beautiful feeling when you catch eyes with or feel the energy of a person who you know you can learn something from, have a laugh with or be with in any shape or form, even for a moment in time, even if you’ll never see that again. That new person rush where everything is exciting is such a fantastic part of living.

I had that tonight when I almost stayed home. I took someone up on their offer, barely spoke to them sadly, but met some great new people. I’ll probably never see them again, but it was a nice way to spend a spring evening.

Feeling energized,


Required says:

people don’t like small talk or feeling hassled about life goals. they like talking about how they feel about gossip girlz and hatin’ on the same things together. ur a gem among holograms.

It doesn’t have to be about life goals- that’s certainly not small talk at all, and who really knows what they want to do with themselves… but if you aren’t going to tell a new person anything about you at all- not even what you like to do on a Saturday for example, there isn’t much to work with.

Neel says:

I love the bit of chaos that being taken literally or taking someone literally can add to life. It’s *good* chaos, usually.

I’m more of the kind to offer, than to take up, though- and fortunately, I am always serious. Especially if someone mentions a book I love that they want to read, or a subject that they need to learn that I have a book on. I’m known as a bit of a librarian at work…

There was a series of books when I was growing up based around a character called Amelia Bedelia who took everything literally and made all sorts of mistakes..maybe why I am so stuck on clarifying and triple checking things these days with others hee.

Turbulence says:

I do make people uncomfy – since either I’m too shy or too blunt. This can lead to misunderstandings and stuff. Middle grounds are nothing for me 😉

I guess small talk is overrated – however it can give the opposite some “fake safety” so one can get more accepted in a group. A door opener. It also can get very boring and running away is also no plus 🙂

I’m very aware the the culture of the North America and Europe DO differ here:

-We should absolutely hang out!
-I’d have done that for you.
-You should come along!
-Yeah, drop by!
-If you need anything, just let me know..

In Europe we would not say this if we didn’t mean it. On the other side of the Atlantic such phrases are more “superficial”. So one has to check on multiple occasion if the statement was repeated.

I guess it’s even different in other parts of the world. In Southern Europe and South America such sentences would be a “for sure” invitation and if you don’t live up to it it’s an insult.

So the small and the larger culture clashes can just be made up with openness, patience and empathy – I reckon.

Yeah I think it’s different everywhere. But there are always going to be people who build up this artificial closeness with you or others for whatever reason and keep stringing people along this way… to feel popular or keep tabs on people or whatever… it takes all kinds really. I think that this kind of person has helped many people better the way they treat others, and really think before making promises.. even though I know I bug people when I say “maybe” so often.

I always thought small talk was to see if there was a deeper connection.. something you could learn or share with someone else. If someone constantly brings me small talk meeting after meeting, I assume that for me that phone is “out of order”–> Movie reference, What about Bob- the character talks about how people are like payphones, some will repeat the same message, some will pick up and connect you with people and places you may not otherwise go. That thankfully they only cost a quarter (or 50 cents), and once you get past a dollar you should really stop feeding it…

Turbulence says:

I second your 2nd paragraph. But I also think that there is a grey area too. I guess this would be the most annoying result…

However the same message repetition is a clear sign of that. It’s like my boss he tells me the same stories all the time. So no deeper connection needed 😉

Jay says:

People watching I suppose is an art in itself.
I never did like the random open and empty promises that some tend to make, even if they are aware of the fact that you know they are full of shit. Say what you mean, follow through, and never make a statement or promise you cannot keep.

See you’d think that most people would roll that way.. and I can’t figure out if they say it because they want to make themselves feel like they do things for others or to not deal with the “why not”.. or if people these days really can’t handle their own time…

Because if you always bail on someone- obviously because you feel like it’s too much work to be with them or they are draining of your energy.. why not just – yeah – never promise those people anything? Or is it because we think of them as draining and therefore some sort of social enemy that we keep such close tabs on them?

This all makes sense to me but when I put it down I feel like I might be off my rocker.

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