There is a person I know, (who really I should know better by now for the amount of time I have known them) who is a conundrum of a conversationalist.
It’s a strange case. She is an older lady I have daily interaction with through work. Really nice polite Mary Berry kind of lady. To describe her some would say that she is so friendly and nice that “Butter would not melt in her mouth”
The only drawback would be if you told her this, she would ask you where you think that phrase comes from? Then before you can answer she will wonder in you direction what the melting temperature of butter may be, followed quickly with a sucker punch of an amusing and incredibly pointless tale of her husband or grandchild involving butter. And as you lay gasping trying to spot an out she would lock the door and seal the conversation with the Bon Mott of agreeing that yes that the butter would probably not melt, but she heard a documentary on Radio 4 and could tell you of a tribe in South America who do this as a ritual to get rid of evil spirits.
She is like Youtube. The most addictive time waster man has created for the weak willed. You never click on just one video do you, something always piques your interest. You may go on looking for a “Cider Refresher” Lolly Pop advert from the 1970’s to show someone, but somehow ten minutes later and you are watching someone excavate a twenty five year old blackhead with a pin, a disturbing lack of hygiene and some terribly long fingernails.
Maybe you take the other boxes on the suggestions and end up watching a recut trailer for Mary Poppins as a Horror film, but it ends up like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from when you were a kid and the end of the same.
“Shit did I really waste all that time watching this”
Back to the lady in question.
You can keep the conversation to a bare minimum, polite greetings etc etc and you can navigate around the edges of the potential Rabbit Hole and continue on your journey as quickly as possible.
But this is no Rabbit Hole. Nope. This is the chat based version of the Sarlac Pit from Star Wars and its just hooked up one of those tentacles and snagged your leg and is now dragging you towards its gaping maw and inevitable doom.
Today’s conversation went like this.
Her: Hello Steffen, how’s your day going
Me: Oh not bad (name changed to protect the innocent)
Her: Personally I am having one of those rare things, a good Thursday.
And here is where I made my mistake. See if you can spot it.
Me: How are they rare?
And with that comment there was no turning back. It was full steam ahead on the crazy train of chat.
Her: Well, I find that only one Thursday in six is good.
Her: Yes, normally Thursdays can be terrible days, but this appears to be one of the good ones.
Me: Ahh, so you had your last good one five weeks ago and you are due a good one today?
Her: No (laughs politely at my silliness) My last good one was three weeks ago, its just one week in six I have a good Thursday.
At this point my inner Sheldon kicks in. “Go Go Autistic Scale Pedantry Powers”
Me: So that would mean that it’s every four weeks you have a good Thursday?
Her: No, every six.
Me: But mathematically the statement you have just made makes a mockery of what you have just said. For it to be every six weeks, you would have to have five bad weeks followed by the good one.
Pauses for breath while she stares at me with the intensity of a kitten faced with a giant ball of wool.
Me: Either that or you would have a six week period in which the week would fall and have the remaining weeks either side, is that what you meant?
Her: Yes, one in six. Today is so good I have even hung my curtains out to dry. And you know what that’s like.
Her: I hate the bad ones.
And she left this hanging like the Sword of Damocles
We both stared at each other, one puzzled and one with the most immaculate unreadable poker face imaginable.
The polite tension was near to unbearable. Someone had to do something. There was an obvious silence.
At this point an innocent bystander (in this case an IT technician who had appeared from behind a desk) unknowingly stood on the banter land mine that I was avoiding.
IT Bloke: What makes a bad Thursday like?
The lady then turned her full attention to the current fly tugging at the thread of her web.
At this point I morphed into the background, humming the tune of “Baby Monkey Riding Backwards on a Pig” to blot the rest of the noise out.
She is like the TV series Lost.
You start a conversation, it suddenly turns a bit weird, you think you still have an idea what’s going on, you even think you know how that polar bear got there. Then Boom, another twist you did not see coming and you are left bewildered and mildly angry and five years of your life has been wasted.
But if I was rude it would genuinely bother me and I would end up having to apologise later and would be stuck back in the same scenario later.
The moral of this story is, always have an expendable member of your party you can throw under the bus if need be. That or get an app for your phone that will ring when you think about it and have to answer thus avoiding sacrificing innocents nearby.
However if its good Chat you are after then do come to the Chat show this month on Sunday the 30th of March at The Stand Newcastle. That’s the home of good chat and that lady is barred.