It is wedding season and that means trying to talk to another person that you don’t know, who is from a totally different life situation, and who you will never meet again while you eat dry cake. First, I very recently subjected most of you to this experience. But at least my cake was MOIST!
So I am sorry, I really am. I am sure you did a fabulous job of finding something to say to my cousin/high school friend. But here are some thoughts on how I would like to improve my wedding conversation game:
1. I really really want to not ask what a person does for a living. I actually come from a part of the country where this is a polite question, but it is still a bad question. If someone is a stay at home mom, out of work, or a contract killer they shouldn’t have to tell people (unless they bring it up). Also, for MOST people this is a dead end question, though you can always get a little This American Life and really find the unexpected details. I actually like learning about the inane specifics of how people get through every minute of their jobs, but often they don’t enjoy telling me those details. And they feel like they have to reciprocate and . . . we’re done. Academia is the death of all conversations.
2. People LOVE to talk about their children and dogs. Especially if their kids are adults. As long as you keep it super specific, “so does he prefer My Little Pony or Ninjago?” this can be a very generative starting point. Asking what grade they are in is not a specific question. This last point is also true with actual children. If you ask them what grade they are in they have no where else to go in conversation. What are you going to ask next? Do they they like their teacher?
3. Asking how they know the bride and groom is a perfectly acceptable opener, but you are going to need a pivot pretty soon.
4. WHAT DO HUMANS TALK ABOUT? I think TV, but I might be overly optimistic.
5. If people don’t ask me questions I want to get better at not caring and just sitting there in silence. People who ask no questions should be punished.