Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Awkward conversation

(Please pardon my use of "awkward"; I know it's been the new "random" for while now, in terms of overuse in everyday conversation.)

(Also, please forgive my use of the "it's the new ______" phrase; I know that's on the outs too.)

(If I misuse semi-colons, please let me know. I stopped using them for a while because I seemed to use them way more than anyone else, so I assumed I was wrong.)

So yesterday Amy and I were just exiting our car for lunch at our apartment. We ran into a neighbor friend. We don't know him very well, but he's a nice guy with a family and I believe he's a missionary. We were both heading to our apartments, so we walked together for a few feet until we reached our respective stairs.

"Boy, this weather, huh?" he starts with. I agree with him, smiling. (The day before had been cold and drizzly; this day was warm and sunny.) Normal, friendly, meaningless conversation. The comfortable kind you have with someone you don't know very well, or even a stranger.

He continues: "And then there are the thousands dead in China and Myanmar." His eyes grow sad. Oh no, this conversation just got downgraded to Uncomfortable.

"Yeah," I agree, wiping the smile quickly from my face.

"The End Times, you know."

"Could be." This space of 15 feet is not conducive to arguments about End Times theology, so I'm just going to agree with whatever he says.

"You know, the Bible says that in the end of days the earth will experience pain like birth pangs."

"Right." Please, just a few more feet until we part, walk faster! But I can't, it'll look like I'm trying to escape.

He pauses a bit, looking reflective. Stop it! What do you want me to say? I don't know what to say to this! It's horribly tragic stuff, to be sure, but why are we discussing it on the way to our apartments from the curb? Augh!

The "conversation" actually continues up the stairs! How to break it off? There's no easy or natural way to do it! Just have to say something vaguely friendly but hollow.

"Welp, have a good one," I say as I wave and smile meekly.

And I'm finally free.


Nobody said...

That was so awkward I felt uncomfortable reading about it!

Personally, I thought Random was the new Awkward, but what do I know. It must be coming through TV as well because Random has been getting overused here too.

However semi-colons are practically illegal here, everyone uses comma splices (like that). I used to be a Semi-Colon Nazi and corrected every comma splica of my students until I realized it was just accepted and -- to my horror -- I adopted the practice myself. Now it feels anal for me to use a semi-colon so I only do it for academic writing and have virtually dropped them for everything else, from emails to movie reviews.

I still experience pangs of guilt whenever I do it, but at the same time I enjoy the free-wheeling attitude comma splices convey. I feel like Buster sneaking juice boxes with impunity!

Ryan said...

"Buster stealing juice boxes with impunity." Ha!

I love that song that he sings when he binges on the giant wine box (the same one Lucille sings).

Amy said...

My favorite part of our recent awkward conversation with our neighbor was when we each reached our own front doors, on opposite ends of the court yard, Ryan says..."True that."

I had to try so hard to hold my laughter until we were both, safe and sound, inside our little home free from the terrors of end times conversation.

Nobody said...

Mama's movin' on! Mama's all alone! Mama doesn't care!

It doesn't work without the brassy burlesque tune.