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I promise this will make sense... Monkey Butler

Maybe a year ago, Chris took me to a tasting event at a whiskey bar. One of the managers that works for him was also there with his wife. The wife tried to talk to me, because I am her husband’s boss’s wife, so she was doing the thing you’re supposed to do: small talk and make friends with the wife.

I don’t remember her name, and that’s terrible of me, but she said, “oh you make jewelry don’t you?” Sweetly trying to get me to talk about myself, grasping for some sort of common ground.

I said, “yes, I do.”

That’s it! Then I just looked at her! What is wrong with me?! This girl is in an uncomfortable situation, with her husband’s boss and his wife, trying desperately to make some sort of connection with me and I answered her with 3 words and then stared at her. I was wearing my jewelry, I could have shown her and continued the conversation, but I didn’t.

I’m sure she thought I was a bitch. I would’ve thought I was a bitch. I was kind of a bitch. Not on purpose though. I just freeze up in these situations. I can’t small talk. I don’t care about your job or the weather. I don’t want to ask you how you’re doing because you won’t tell me the truth anyway. I do really care how you’re doing, but when we ask that question, people don’t answer it truthfully.

I’m watching David Sedaris’s MasterClass on writing and he says we need to ask better questions. He’s kind of an odd guy and he told a story about how he asked a lady when the last time she touched a monkey was. She said, “oh can you smell it on me?” She happened to work at a facility where they train monkeys to be helpers for people who were paralyzed. She then took him to the monkey place and he got to hang out with 15 monkey butlers in training.

That’s what I want to talk to you about. I want to know if you train monkeys to be butlers.

My social anxiety keeps me from asking the weird questions I actually think in my head when I’m with strangers. Especially when I’m in a situation like that, with my husband at a work event, I feel like I should at least pretend to be normal since I’m representing him (from this story, it’s clear I can’t pretend to be normal either).

Chris and I have a habit of just blatantly telling each other we don’t care about what the other person is saying. If I’m talking about something unimportant and mind numbing to him, like a story about someone inside StoryAthlete that he doesn’t know and most likely will never know, he just says “I don’t care.” If he’s talking about his job and some corporate person I absolutely do not give a shit about I say, “I don’t care.”

This probably looks rude to other people (actually most of our relationship probably looks rude to other people).

Unimportant conversation that isn’t going to let me learn about you seems like a waste of time. I understand that is how you “break the ice” with people but I just can not seem to people correctly.

Talk to me about small talk. Not if you like it, because I can’t imagine anyone likes it, talk to me about if you can do it. (Ok, if you like it, tell me that because I can’t fathom a world where someone likes small talk).

Can you successfully people, or are you like me and just stare at people awkwardly and wish a minor medical emergency upon yourself so you have an excuse to flee?

P.S. I’m practicing asking better questions, so if you bump into me somewhere and I ask you something totally off the wall, I’m not having a stroke, I promise.

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