I hate small talk. I suck at it. When I was a bitty one, I was shy as all get out, and just kept my nose buried in a book. Kids don’t have to lead conversations, and it’s a no-brainer to answer kindly questions with monosyllables. We moved around so much, if I had a friend at all it was because she (or rarely, he) was outgoing and befriended me. Once we were friends, small talk wasn’t necessary. We could talk about real stuff. Like boys. Or what tongues taste like. Or whether the ducks really liked noise, or they knew it meant we were there with food. When I’m around family or friends, I can generally talk a blue streak.
The dentist chair is a place of relief. Direct questions, fingers in the mouth the rest of the time, no need to think up stuff to say.
The hairdresser, on the other hand? One popular slogan used to go “only my hairdresser knows for sure.” Yes, the ad campaign was for coloring products, but you’re in that chair for hours, depending on the process, and who knows what might come out of my mouth. I only get my hair cut once a year, and that’s not simply budgetary.
I’ve been accused of over-sharing. I guess I have two conversational modes: mum’s the word and open book. A bunch of years ago, I was in a hard place. I’d lost a relationship due to emotional chaos on my part, and while I’d sought medical treatment for the brain end of things, I was looking for more reliable emotional support. The kind where you can’t do damage by being needy, which meant I was looking past my remaining partners for an overflowing fountain of unconditional love, no hidden price tags. So I started going to church again.
Now, there’s a lot of folks that might argue against this being a surefire solution, but I lucked into a church that followed Christ’s teachings pretty solidly, without a bunch of the rigamarole and rules that have accreted since His time. Mind you, I crawled back into my shell big time. Sure God would love me no matter what, but we were dealing with people in the meantime. The paster seemed pretty okay, in fact kinda spooky, since every single sermon and drama seemed to be written especially for me. But it got kinda weird, going to church with just me, myself and I, and occasionally my older son — who approved of the music and the lateness of service time - 11:55am.
So I decided to join a small group. Nowadays they’re called life groups, cause they’re not so small anymore. I was working nights, so I got matched up with a group of ladies who met on Friday mornings. The first time I showed up, they introduced themselves, and I thought OMG that woman’s household is more full and complicated than mine. But the rest of the women did seem kind of churchy.. Lots of smiles, not people I’d spill all my ugly all over. So I came, I listened, I occasionally talked — shallow stuff, I'd learned a little about small talk by then. I mostly worked on staying awake, since we met about 2 hours before my ordinary wake-up time.
Gradually, I figured out that these ladies were real people with their own messed up places and craziness and that they cared about me. Eventually, I told my over-sharing level of story in group and later learned that I inspired “if she can tell her story, I can surely share mine” in more than one lady. I was finally in a place where I could answer “do your friends know?” with of course they do, it’s church!
Then I started working days and I had to change life groups. I'm still working on finding my comfort zone with a new set of ladies. But I know that any topic is open, and we share a genuine love for each other. That's what church communities are supposed to be all about.
This has been an entry for The Real LJ Idol writing competition: the Final Season, Topic 14 : Confession from the Chair.
Routine Ramblings of an Occasionally Interesting Housewife
- Out of my shell