Now, as you all know, I'm not a very friendly person. It's not that I don't like people. I'm just absolutely terrible at chit chat. I watch a little football, but I don't memorize any of the games. Other than that, I don't really follow sports. I follow politics, but I don't make chit chat about it with strangers (or, for that matter, with fambly anymore given how much of my fambly is raging leftists or, at the very least, buys into the popularly-held misconception that liberals are smarter than conservatives, or that conservatism is just thinly veiled racism, or both). While I am an astute follower of the weather, one runs out of weather observations rather rapidly. So mainly I smile and nod and pay close attention to see not so much if I can learn about the subject being discussed as I can learn about how to make idle chit chat without feeling like it's completely forced.
At this I am a failure.
But after a beers or two, I can nod and smile very convincingly, and I can inject wry little witticisms into the conversation for color. Like this:
"That's great. And I thought the best thing that could happen today was that .223 ammo went on sale at Cabela's, and if you order $99 or more of anything and enter the promo code "12FREE" on the checkout page, you get free shipping this weekend only. And you know how expensive it is to ship ammo. That stuff weighs a ton. It's like they filled the box half up with lead or something."See that - useful information followed up immediately with sarcasm. It's like I have a gift, just not for chit chat.
(I'm required to tell you that Cabela's has not paid me any fee or consideration for promoting their sale. I just finished ordering some ammo moments ago, after Slushee text messaged me about the sale, so it was on my mind.)
Well, we're chatting some of the standard airport-bar chatter about whether you're going home or leaving home, and whether you're actually from the place you're going to or coming from. Blah blah blah. Then, out of the blue:
Guy at Bar: "So, how long have you been married?"See, the thing is that I, CherkyB, am a man. Therefore, I remember things the way a man remembers things - I remember when they happened. I don't remember how long it has been since it happened. Somebody says to you, "How long has it been since the Declaration of Independence?" You go, "Hmmm...July 4th, 1776. It's January 2012. 235 and a half years." You don't just know that's how long it has been. And believe you me, the signing of the Declaration of Independence is a hell of a lot more momentous an occasion than any particular person's wedding - yes even more important than Princess Di's.
Me, CherkyB: "Wait! Don't tell me! I know this one! Uhhh..."
Bartender: "You damn well better know this one if you expect to stay married."
So, I'm doing math in my head. While taking shit from a bartender. Who I guarantee doesn't know how long he's been married, he's just making chit chat.
Me, CherkyB: "Oh, a little over 15 years."At which point I may have added, "because my darling wife is the best thing that ever happened to me, and we love each other more every day, and she's one of the last people who avidly reads everything I write in my blog," or, "I have kids."
Guy at Bar: "I made it 18 in mine. Lemme tell you something."
Me, CherkyB: "What's that?"
Guy at Bar: "Divorce. You should try it. It's like the best thing in the world."
Me, CherkyB: "Hmm."
Guy at Bar: "Yeah. I thought it was going to be horrible. But it turns out to be fantastic. Fan-f*^king-tastic. You really should try it. If you don't like it, you can always get married again."
Me, CherkyB: "Well...I'm not really thinking about getting divorced at the moment."
One of those.
Guy at Bar: "Let me tell you - I was telling my girlfriend how I wanted to quit my job and start my own business, and the next day she had deposited $10,000 into my account to help pay for startup costs. And look at this:"At which point he starts digging in his wallet and tossing credit cards onto the bar.
Guy at Bar: "This credit card is hers. This is hers. This one is hers. She pays for everything. You should seriously try divorce."I bring out the best in people. It's my gift.
Me, CherkyB: "Well, I'm glad it's working out for you, but I can't imagine being without my dear, beautiful wife who hangs on every word I write on my blog so that she can discuss it with me and/or her mother as though it was some sort of literary masterpiece."
Guy at Bar: "Yeah. OK. I'm just saying. Hey, have you seen this online game? It's like a war strategy game where you have armies and have to equip them and fight battles against other players? It's the best. You've got to try it."