Our neighbor came over last night to offer us some fresh peaches. We were grateful, because we sure do love peaches. I answered the door, and if it had remained a conversation between the two of us, it would have been a pretty straightforward exchange.
“Would you like some peaches?” My neighbor would have asked.
“We would love some peaches!” I would exclaim.
I would take the peaches, thank my neighbor, and call it a pleasant conversation.
But my wife came to the door with me, and once the peaches passed from my neighbor’s hand to my own, the small talk commenced.
I am not an expert on small talk. I seldom, if ever engage in this alien form of communication. It baffles me, actually. If small talk is a muscle in your body, mine is woefully undeveloped. My wife, however, has a small talk muscle of Herculean strength. So, when the small talk commenced, I exited the scene, because that is what I do. Someone who doesn’t small talk is usually uncomfortable around those who do. I just sit there, trying to think of something to say with a constipated look on my face from the strain of exercising mental muscles I do not possess.
I don’t think I’m an unfriendly person (well, I’m at least not openly hostile). I just think a good conversation can normally be condensed into one word: “Hey!”
H = How are you?
E = Everything’s fine.
Y= Yes, we should definitely talk again soon.
The beautiful thing about the “Hey Conversation,” is that you don’t actually have to say the words. A wave is the sign language version of the “Hey Conversation.” And if your hands are busy, a nod of the head accomplishes the same thing.
It’s a benefit in a relationship to have one person without the ability to engage in small talk. It makes getting things done much easier, like going to the grocery store. I can make a run to the local market three and a half hours faster than my wife. When I arrive home, my wife will ask me if I saw anybody while I was there.
“I saw Bob.”
“Bob? What did Bob have to say?”
“He said, Hey!”
So while my wife and our neighbor engaged in small talk, I went to our bedroom. I napped for a time, clipped my toenails, then fished the lint out of my bellybutton and used it to knit myself a nice pair of socks. After a while I thought I would step outside and watch the moon come up. I stared at the stars, meditated and contemplated the meaning of life.
I listened to the crickets and in a moment of deep insight I comprehended what they had been trying to communicate to humanity all these ages: “The end is coming. The end is coming. The end is coming.” Or maybe it was just “Hey.” It was hard to be sure.
Eventually my wife came out to find me. Her small talk with our neighbor had ended.
She sat beside me, smiled, and said, “Hey!”
Which is why I love her so.