I’m notoriously bad at small talk. Horrific at flirting. Don’t even get me started on trying to start a conversation with a cute guy. To watch it, you’d be amazed that I’ve ever seen a human before, never mind engaged in the act of speaking to one.
I think I missed school the day that everyone else learned how to meet new people and ‘do’ small talk. That day, which weirdly coincided with the day where everyone learned how to style their hair and apply mascara, all the girls learned how to carry on light and easy conversations with every one. I, apparently, had a cold that day.
Normal conversation, interaction with people I know well has never a problem. In fact, those who know me, can’t shut me up. I’m a notorious interrupter (second child syndrome) and as my girl friends know, I can and will talk about pretty much anything.. endlessly. But as soon as I meet someone I don’t know… cottonmouth and..well … nothing. If something comes out, it was guaranteed to be weird, odd or completely inappropriate… Tourettes-like..sans the swearing and rocking. If its a cute guy.. don’t ask. Its bad.
By the time I was 18, I was legally aided and abetted in small talk situations by my friend ‘alcohol’ which solved my evenings out. Unfortunately you can’t drink your way through life (or you can, but I find slurring and blackouts tend to interfere with that whole ‘job’ thing). So at 40ish, I still struggle with how to talk to people I don’t know and my mouth still acts independently of my brain. The outcome when men are involved? A cringe worthy mix of insults and bizarro questions that no sane person would ever utter:
- Asking the lead singer of Rascal Flatts why he was wearing pajamas during the day (he wasn’t)
- Asking a coworker if his nipples were hard or ‘always like that?’
- Suggesting a single friend try Craigslist for a date (‘you know, there’s all kinds of people on there’)
- Telling my new boss he might be overdoing the hair product.
- Introducing myself to my Crossfit coach with the words ‘Just so you know, I’m not going to like this’
- Telling a hot guy ‘ you smell like olive oil’
Yes. I know. I don’t know why. Stupid shit just pours from my mouth.
Why I would think any of these comments or opening gambits would lead to anything other than odd looks and quick getaways? I don’t.. but try as I might (and I DO try) the ability to start a conversation with a stranger, especially a cute male stranger, still elludes me at the age of 41. Normal people can talk about the weather, the Broncos, their weekend, hell.. even their muffin. Me? Well I’m hoping ‘me talk pretty one day’ and until then, my verbal IQ is around 26.
Which leads me to my current conundrum. After a random cute guy approached me this weekend (he complimented my tattoo), I found myself in my usual state of dumbstruck-itude. Luckily, I was too cotton-mouthed to actually articulate what was running through my head (‘you have a beard.you are cute. you have a beard). Instead I squeaked out a ‘thank-you’ and studying my lap intensely as he walked over to his friends at another table.
Yes, I know I’m over 40.
Later as I noticed him looking over in my direction, I desperately tried to think of something, anything I could say to him that was casual, light and not likely to send him running. The best I could come up with as I left the coffee shop was ‘Nice elbows’.
(No, not ‘Nice tats yourself’… no, I complemented his ELBOWS. Where the tattoos were located.. but still, ‘nice elbows‘?).
Even now, I can’t stop my eyes rolling back in my head with mortification.
So if you’re out there Mr Beardy cyclist with the cool tattoo’d ELBOWS from this morning I wanted to say ‘Thank you for the compliment. Yours are pretty cool too’. And if I’m ever drunk enough to forget the previous interaction.. I’d probably like to ask you out for a drink.