Friday, January 3, 2014

Story 15: The Realization

            There comes a time in everyone’s life when this happens: you're having a conversation with someone about a topic that you're interested in, and minutes into it you suddenly are aware that everything coming out of your mouth is completely and utterly INANE.
            Usually, the realization is triggered by the person you are speaking with – or, rather, to.  You have been going on and on expounding on a topic you are enthusiastic about, and the other person interjects with: “Really?”  Or: “Interesting.”  Or, the killer: “I hear you.”  All of which is code for: “Please stop talking, and set me free.”
            People trapped in those conversations mostly are too polite to tell you to shut up or to turn their back on you and walk away.  So, they suffer in silence and fill any gaps in your monologue with a variant of the sayings above.  Life for them has come to a grinding halt as they uncomfortably search for escape, praying that someone rescues them or that the floor would open up and swallow them whole – it does not matter where that hole may lead.  Once you release them and life resumes, they feel drained, spiritless, and want to go home.
            For you, the captor, the ignorance of the torture you are inflicting only amplifies your humiliation when the epiphany hits.  You had believed you were discoursing knowledgeably and entertainingly when, without warning, the metaphorical rug is pulled out from under your feet and your heart literally stops beating.  Everything you had said before actually was stupid and boring, and now there is no way to gracefully backtrack without embarrassing yourself more than you already have.  Should you abruptly change the subject?  Mumble something incoherently as you gulp the drink you hopefully are holding?  Pretend your phone is ringing, silently thanking modern technology for its ability to interrupt everything?  Ask the other person’s opinion, dragging out the experience even longer?
            The best course probably is to cover up the strangled look on your face with a violent coughing fit, both effectively ending the conversation and going out with the listener’s sympathy rather than the resentment they were steadily brewing.

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