And Then She Said

Last week, as part of everything that was going on, I found myself forced out into the real world for more than simply groceries or a gentle walk for the first time in… honestly, quite a while, actually. (Months, certainly, but I genuinely couldn’t tell you how many — which might, in itself, give you an idea of how long it has been.) On the one hand, this is clearly a good thing; COVID and lockdown aside, there’s no reason for me to become any more of a shut-in than I already am, and it’s been so long since I interacted with people I don’t know that I’d genuinely forgotten that I like talking to people at times.

That said, I have apparently lost the ability to make small talk.

Small talk is an all-important part of interacting with the outside world; it’s the social grease that eases the wheels of conversation with strangers, and, I’ll be honest, it’s something that I had previously prided myself at being good at, or at least, not entirely shitty at. Those days, apparently, are long gone.

Whether it was the Lyft drivers that made sure I got to the vets, or the vet techs themselves as we walked around the block desperately trying to get Gus to pee while the small plastic tray was close to the clinic — he didn’t — I found myself depressingly unable to keep the small talk going without awkward pauses and overthinking my responses.

On the plus side, I’m not entirely sure this was just a problem on my part. Indeed, I’d hazard a guess that this is an endemic problem to the wider populace, all of us still in a mild recovery position from the last year or so. We’ve all been in our little bubbles, and not needing to make small talk, after all. Can you blame us for being rusty at it now?

And yet, as we think about the possibility of a post-lockdown world — even if the idea of a post-COVID world feels a little unlikely just yet — it strikes me that small talk is something I need to return to, sooner rather than later. If I can just remember how.

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