Last night at work I listened to the latest episode of This American Life. In it, they spoke to the mother of one of the show’s producers, who has strong opinions about things. She’s an older British lady, and I liked her immediately. She’s no-nonsense, and has a low-tolerance for asshattery.
They were talking, specifically, about the woman’s rules for conversation. She has an itemized list of seven subjects people should never talk about, because nobody else cares. It was more focused than our own Rules of Thumb, but along the same lines. I was laughing along, in general agreement. And even when I didn’t TOTALLY agree, I still appreciated her approach to things.
Here are her seven subjects nobody should ever talk about, and a few of my quick thoughts.
How you slept Ha! I’m guilty of this one, although not often. Sometimes I toss and turn, and the next morning the bed looks like an epileptic went off in it. And I report it to the world. But some people come to work and pontificate at length about their arm falling asleep, and their pillow needs to be replaced, blah blah blah. Nobody gives a shit.
Your dreams Yes! This is on our Rules of Thumb, and I couldn’t agree more. The only exception is when it’s truly bizarre, and the person tells it quickly: in and out, hitting only the interesting points. But that rarely happens. It usually goes on and on, with all sorts of numbing details. This one would definitely be on my personal list, as well. Although I’ve been known to break it.
Your period I don’t know about this one. When it’s just a vehicle for complaining about cramps and such, I’m in agreement. But if it’s something disgusting and inappropriate, I’m all for it. I’m not sure I’m in agreement with this one.
Your health The woman made it clear she was talking about normal aches and pains, and not cancer or something serious like that. She meant people who tell you every detail of their latest visit to the doctor, and all the prescriptions they’re taking, etc. I’m totally with her on this one. Nearly everywhere I’ve worked in my life (although not really at the current place) there’s been a fat woman who LOVED to talk about her health issues. I can see their fleshy faces in my brain right now, and get a full-body shiver.
Money This is something I rarely talk about, because I was taught, via example, that it’s private. But lots o’ people will tell you everything, and it makes me a little uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s not boring, just inappropriate. What is boring, is people whining about how poor they are. Now, that’s boring.
Your diet I’m down with this. The daily reports of how many pounds you’ve lost, what you had for dinner, how you’ve been forced to eliminate bread from your meals. There’s not a person anywhere who cares. Knock it off.
“Route talk” That’s what the woman called it. She meant people who go on and on about how they got somewhere, the route they took, the amount of traffic they encountered, etc. I’m guilty of serial-bitching about Interstate 81, but understand what she’s saying. This is dull stuff. Which is why I generally dress it up with a lot of profanity, and threats of suicide and/or homicide.
And those are her seven subjects you should never talk about, because they’re just too goddamn boring. What are your thoughts? Please tell us about it in the comments section below.
I’d like to add an eighth item: your job. It’s OK to discuss it quickly, and generally. But when you start getting into the weeds, and telling me about what James said, and the sheer injustice of it all… I start to glaze over. I don’t know who the fuck James is, don’t care, and am probably thinking about pot roast as you drone on. Pass the beer nuts.
If you have anything you’d like to add to the list, feel free to nominate it in the comments.
And I’ll see you guys again tomorrow.
Have yourselves a fine day!