The Anti-Conversationalist

When you are young and you don’t need anyone, making love is just for fun but eventually, those days are gone and you find that everything becomes much easier if you stop engaging with people who want to have a random conversation with you.

The trouble with me is that I am what is known in the trade as a Nice Girl. In my youth I felt obliged to politely converse with all who approached me. I would frequently be approached by old women at the bus station who, having pumped me for information regarding the number 86, would begin telling me about their grandchildren and offering me Werther’s Originals. On a train a slightly drunk and unpleasant man once tried to be my friend but rather than telling him where to get off for fear of appearing rude, I discretely moved my ring to a different finger and invented an imaginary fiancée. I also quietly reasoned that should I run into trouble of that nature, a ring on an appropriate finger would solidly back up my disinclination to his requests.
Now that I am older and my time is that much more expensive, I am far more comfortable offering politely dismissive smiles to those who feel the need to pass comment on the contents of my shopping trolley or on the amount of junk in the back of my car (although to be fair, there is a saucepan lid in there at present so I’m not surprised it gets mentioned.).
It’s nice that people feel I look approachable but, quite honestly, I don’t really want to have a conversation with whoever happens to be standing in line with me. I have a lot to think about and your talk of your small child, your latest lampshade acquisition or your gangrenous head simply distracts me and makes me late and unhappy. Sorry.

Unfortunately, life is such that there are some occasions upon which one is required to stand around with an alcoholic beverage making inane conversation with people you’ve only just met. For the unwary this can result in getting trapped in a corner with an old lady who wants to tell you in detail about her recent colostomy. It is therefore important to immediately assess everybody you come into contact with and decide whether or not a conversation with them will result in your brain leaking slowly from your ears in confusion so that you may politely extract yourself before that happens.

I was once at one of these shindigs when an old woman rambled up to me. She examined the glass of orange juice I was clutching.
“Don’t you drink?” she enquired.
I explained that such a thing was so.
“Are you an Alcoholic?” She asked in a loud voice causing several nearby people to look round.
After a carefully calculated pause I again responded in the negative and resisted the urge to tack something unkind to the end of my reply.
“Oh.” She nodded and carefully examined my waistline. “Are you Pregnant?”

I’m sure nobody could have blamed me if I had shoved the old bat out of the nearest window and swiftly emptied a bottle of Pims down my throat but Nice Girls have to smile and be pleasant especially in the face of provocation. Nice Girls are not even allowed to make pointed comments like “At the point at which it becomes your business, I’ll let you know.”

Anyway, it helped to prepare me for all the subsequent occasions upon which I’ve been asked if I’m an Alcoholic.

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