Everyone Talks About the Weather, Really They Do - 7/27/2011

I am not an unfriendly person. In fact my daughter, Carly, calls me a line talker. I like to converse and I can carry on a conversation about almost anything, if it interests me. I enjoy making smart-ass remarks and appreciate intelligent repartee. But the older I get, the less I can participate in small-talk.

The truth is that I am not a good listener. That might be why I failed miserably as a counselor and wasted my time getting that degree. As soon as I lose interest in a conversation, I tune out. I may appear to be paying attention, but I am not. I can maintain eye contact. I can even watch your lips move, but my mind has moved on without you. I had a tolerance for small talk when I was younger and if it was a woman that I was interested in. That is where I learned to maintain eye contact, although sometimes that focus wandered south.

I live in a condo where most of the residents are even older than I am. I can usually avoid these people, but sometimes the door doesn’t close fast enough and I share the elevator with one of them. I do my best to avoid eye contact and try to actually become invisible. This is difficult as I am 6’1” and weigh about the same as a side of beef. It is hard to hide in a 5X5 enclosure. I do not believe that just because two people occupy the same space that a conversation has to ensue. A simple polite nod or “hello” is sufficient for me if I have blown my cover. Even a “wassup” from a younger person, is acceptable, though not preferred. I have pretended to be engaged in a conversation on the cell phone, only to have it ring. So a verbal exchange is often inevitable.
Why do people when they reach a certain age all become meteorologists? They fixate on the weather like red neck on a bowl of grits. If I am stuck with a super senior, I can guarantee I will receive a weather report before I can get out of that confinement. “It sure is a hot one.” I nod but what I really want to say is “it is July in South Carolina, what the fuck do you expect, a blue northern?” Even if it had rained for six solid hours and the elevator is taking in water: “we sure needed that rain.” Are we now farmers here at Captain’s Harbour? Do we have crops to irrigate? I really don’t NEED any rain, ever. I have lived here for eight years and every time I turn the tap, water comes out. Even during the longest of droughts. When all I get from my sink is mud or dust, I will worry about precipitation.

If a person that hasn’t yet reached the age of mandatory weather reporting is trapped with me for the seemingly endless ride, the discussion will center on my dog, Skooter: “Is that a Beagle?” Again a nod but inside my brain is dying to respond: “nope, he is a Great Dane. He has a potassium deficiency.” Or: “My uncle had a Beagle.” Nod, thinking: “Where the hell is he? I want to party with him. Maybe we could become blood brothers.”
I don't wish to be an unfriendly neighbor. I wave like a sonofabitch when I
drive by these people or if I am on the balcony and they see me before I can duck down. And I will talk to them if I have anything important to say. For instance, if I see flames coming from their unit or someone is stealing their car. I totally agree with Robert Frost but unfortunately condos don’t have fences.