Saturday, April 23, 2016
Stopping the Conversation
There are phrases to which there are no replies. Make my day comes to mind. I remember the movie scene quite clearly and I cannot remember what the addressee said if anything.
The reply to Paul Newman's, "What we have here is a failure to communicate," in Cool Hand Luke was a hail of bullets. Whether it was the bullets or his memorable line the conversation was clearly over.
Most conversation stoppers in real life are not so memorable. But "I cannot eat gluten," generally halts any conversation about where to eat lunch. It is usually when I choose to go back home and fix myself something to eat. On almost all menus there is something a reasonable person can order which is not based on gluten but the mere fact someone brought it up while everyone was joyfully wanting to continue the day with lunch is not a good sign. Her chosen topic at lunch will be the evil of gluten.
Mother always said to never talk about religion or politics but frankly they are today safer subjects than gluten. I made the mistake of bemoaning the store produced This produce gluten free on the Portabella mushrooms when one of the members of the conversation said she didn't know that they were. Marc's favorite conversation ending phrase, which I could so clearly hear in my head at that moment was, Well that lowered the level.
It is easier to end a conversation on social media because you cannot laugh after you said the wrong thing. And the wrong thing can be the wrong thing only because it is said in the wrong context or typed in all caps. Nothing ends a discussion on social media like all caps. Or jumping into the conversation 30 comments down and posting without reading any of the previous comments. You really don't want to be redundant.
My sister and I are rather attached to the phrase Make it march. But I am personally aware that rather than advance the conversation it ends it. That is my internal editor in residence. Some people don't have one. Just deleted a friend who clearly didn't. Looking back I am quite sure she hadn't a clue about what she said and how she said it. I know because she comes up with that sort of phrasing too often.
Most of us have learned to dance around or ignore conversation stoppers like religion and politics but we are unprepared for gluten of Trump (more than just politics) or transgender bathroom laws. After having been on the receiving end of lectures about how to lose weight I have avoided mentioning my recent weigh loss. I don't want to be like them. Weight and diet are deeply personal issues to be shared mana y mana and never at the lunch table when the double cheese burger with fries is set before someone.
We are adults. We have made choices in our lives based on a complex infrastructure of experience and research. Lunch is never the time to review all that. Nor is Facebook a good place to raise our belief that the other made a mistake about their choices.
Yes, living in the mountains is cool on several levels. I love where I live. I have never looked good in shorts and hate flipflops. I am not sensitive to lactose or gluten intolerant nor do I need to know you are. I hate purse dogs which cannot walk and you are not changing my mind about that.
And that is a whole paragraph of conversation enders.