Sunday, December 6, 2015

Awkward Jello

The best thing about seeing a new therapist?? An entirely new set of metaphors to rest my mind on.

So we were talking about how I have this tendency to let insane things out of the mouth part of my face when trying to make small talk with people. Here's one story: Mom-of-a-First-Grader (who I've met maybe 2 times and don't know ANYTHING about), says hi. "How was your day?" And I reply with, "Oh my gosh, I was listening to the police scanner this morning and heard a grade school practicing an Active Shooter Drill. It was terrifying. So if you ever listen to a police scanner during a shooter drill, turn it off because parents with kids in school should NOT be picturing that stuff."

Honestly, that's how my day was. But the woman looked horrified and we haven't spoken since then. It's a situation I brought to Meg2.0 as an example of why I shouldn't be allowed to talk to strangers. She thought that it was very brave of me to give such a truthful answer to a question like that. But... that maybe I started having a conversation with myself earlier in the day that First-Grade-Mom accidentally stumbled into the middle of. So she just got a small cut-out of the entire conversation. And yeah, that can be fairly confusing. She didn't know why I listen to the police scanner (because of drug dealers), or that I'd only recently started listening to the scanner (that very day), or that I wasn't even listening to the scanner for the town we live in (because it isn't available online). So she didn't get the whole picture.

It's like this......

Say that talking to people is like making dessert. And most people, when they make small talk (and the quickest, easiest, most readily-acceptable dessert) make normal Jello. "Hey, it's chilly today." "Did your kids enjoy the pumpkin patch?" I think these things are boring so I usually space out and get a dazed look on my face (I've seen it in pictures). Talking about these things tells me nothing about the person I'm talking to either. So in an effort to make life more interesting, and elicit memorable conversations from people, I make Jello Jigglers!! They are much more dense, and have fun shapes, and last a lot longer sitting on the counter!! It's a denser version of small talk that's cut out of whatever is going on in my life at the moment.

Apparently, though, not everyone is a fan of the more formed, slightly rubberier, jello cutouts. And if they're looking for normal squishy jello, giving them something they're not ready for might turn a few people off.

BUT........ Meg2.0 forced me to think of all of the times that I've given someone the awkward jello ("Yeah, I'm just not sure how to explain felony aggravated robbery to my six-year old") and they LOVE IT and respond back with something memorable and honest ("No kidding! Schizophrenia is really a tough topic, but it's totally manageable if you frame it the right way.") and a friendship starts that is actually pretty fun and comfortable.

The risk can be pretty scary, but the friendship reward is actually super cool. Awkward Jello. It's what's for dinner (or dessert, whatever).


Ali K. said...

This is an interesting analogy! I think sometimes I seem standoffish because I hate small talk, but I especially hate if someone skips small talk to try to delve into personal stuff. I think your brand of small talk is great because it bridges that gap. It's not boring small talk, but it's not really personal, BUT it allows for a deeper and more meaningful discussion to take place. I should give out jello jigglers more often!

Sorry for any typos...iPad typing!

Annie Crow said...

Love this. And I'm just fine at small talk... but the denser stuff is so much more interesting.

... said...

Ali!! I totally get what you're saying. It was too long to post, but then I started talking about the friends I know who give you "chocolate fudge" conversation: "This morning I had to poop but...." or "Let me try to convince you to think about politics/religion in the exact way I do." Some people definitely give you the densest stuff first!!