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How to Make Small Talk

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how-to-make-small-talkWhen people ask you how you are doing, do you think they really want to know?

One of these times I am going to reply with “Well, sit down. I have a lot that I would really like to get off my chest.” Can you imagine their surprise? Then, maybe I can break out a mini cooler and some crackers and cheese.

Now that I live in California, my “How ya doings” have doubled. I am surrounded by a polite society. There isn’t anyone who doesn’t smile or wave hello. As an East Coaster, I am thrown off my game when someone sees my blinker and waves me in front of him or her so I can turn left at the light. On the East Coast I would signal in the middle of the lane and get four honks and one f.u.

In California, each time I meet someone new, I get the same question: “So how ya liking California so far?” From there, I study their face to determine if they really care or if they are just being really nice Californians.

Everyone here is nice initially and then they drift off to meditation class or to buy bean sprouts. On the East Coast, people aren’t initially as nice. However, once you trip them to make they stop and say hello, they are there, with depth, sin surfboard.

My doubting has me wondering if I am being set up. So, if I reply “LOVE IT,” I will have to spend the next five minutes convincing them that there really were things to do in Connecticut in the snow. If I say “Really unhappy,” they will think that if I can’t be happy in this weather, then I can’t be happy anywhere.

Turning inward, I decided to take some time for a better answer. I was attending a work function for my husband and knowing that all 250 people would pop the question in an effort to make conversation, I needed a better answer. “So how are you liking California so far?” I considered the following plans:

  1. Plan A: to tell them that I had this little wart on my foot and the California weather seemed to do it wonders, however they would probably believe me and miss the humor so I went with...
  2. Plan B: which was West coast pleasant with East coast depth. “It is like picking out the most beautiful wrapping paper that you can find and wrapping an empty box. The gift looks beautiful like the California weather, the mountains, and the vineyards that surround my home. However the box itself is empty. It took me 46 years to fill that box with relationships and memories. Now it will take me the next 46 to fill it up again.” Silence.

Most of the people weren’t clear on how to take me. You could clearly see them posing the question inside their heads, wondering how it related to surfing, biking, or the weather.

This weekend, the question will go the other direction. Instead, I am traveling for my daughter’s prom in Connecticut. The weekend will start off with pre-prom festivities, where I will see everyone I have known in town with their son/daughter for pictures.

Inevitably, the conversation will begin with “So how are you liking California so far?” Although the question is the same, the interpretation will change completely. This time if I answer, “Great, love it.” I would get the "she never fit in here anyway" thoughts. If I give them the wrapping paper speech, they will walk away and say, “You know they say people smoke a lot of pot in California.”

So in an effort to stay neutral I am going with plan A. There is nothing like a good conversation about a wart and the weather to get the party started.

For more of Lifewithwendy please visit her at lifewithwendy.com.

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