Well, someone’s got to break the ice, and it might as well be me. I
mean, I’m used to being a hostess, it’s part of my husband’s work. And
it’s always difficult when a group of new friends meet together for the
first time, to get acquainted. So I’m perfectly prepared to start the
ball rolling. I mean, I-I have absolutely no idea what we’re doing here.
Or what I’m doing here, or what this place is about, but I am
determined to enjoy myself. And I’m very intrigued, and, oh my, this
soup’s delicious, isn’t it? — Clue
The Louisville Zoo has a large, caged in area where they keep the lorikeets. Basically, these are small, obnoxious parrots that have learned that when humans stand with their arms outstretched, small cups of sugar-water can be found at the end of those arms. It’s cute, and neat, and very noisy. When not lapping up sugar-water, the birds hang from the netting on the walls and, well, screech at each other. Imagine about 30 colorful birds, each the size of a pigeon, chattering and screeching non-stop, and you have the lorikeet exhibit.
Now, imagine how I feel when someone is making small talk for the sake of small talk. At a party, it’s like being in that cage with the lorikeets again. Every person is chirping and squawking about nothing in particular, until someone randomly lands on a subject that everyone wants to talk about. Then the volume goes up, but at least the content does as well.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I see it more in the suburban south than I ever saw in the rural to semi-rural North. I heard someone once quip that Minnesota is where the introverts stare at their shoes and the extroverts stare at your shoes, and that fits. Get a bunch of us together, and if we can’t find a subject that everyone wants to talk about, and we’ll sit in relatively comfortable quiet, enjoying our meal or our ever-present cup of coffee.*
I’m not saying that I discourage conversation, but I do want conversation to have a point.
*That’s another thing I’ve noticed. Back home, regardless of the season, if someone is coming over or just drops by, a pot of coffee is going to get made. Down here, it’s sweet tea.