Don’t you just loathe those banal, those inane conversations from which you cannot escape? Sometimes it happens in meetings – the ones where you are bored out of your tiny little skull but someone, somewhere in the room feels the necessity to drag it all out because they are so “passionate” and so “driven”. And all you are thinking is: I’d rather be swallowing poisoned razor blades, or can some sadistic manicurist please tear out my fingernails one by one with no anesthetic so that I might feel something!
My latest strategy is to think up something funny about the person who is the pestilent bore, and quietly have my fun in my head or nowadays, since everyone’s allowed to have their laptops/tablets/iPads (and whatever else) open at the meetings, I sit and type (on my cell phone usually) ideas for plays or skits or something I fond equally amusing. As long as I do what the others do – nod with a knowing frown!
This seems to be the universal symbol for “I agree!” or “I am listening to you while typing a message on Facebook” or “I hear you!” the latter is usually muttered twice when eventually they verbalize their attentiveness. As in: “I hear you, I hear you! You make a valid point, colleague.” Oh, and that word, colleague!!!!
And one can only go to the toilet so many times, or excuse yourself so many times to take that “urgent call from the office” in one meeting before they are onto you!
Actually I was going to write about a very different type of conversation that one really cannot escape – unless you want to take your tea on the veranda in the sky. I am talking about aircraft conversations. I sat in 25D (on the aisle) and this goes out to the pair that sat in 25E and F on our flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town last week.
I had to hear the whole soap opera saga of one named Roy and his estranged wife Viv (short for Vivienne) and their children – Daniel, the drug addict and Michelle the au pair who is “really such a nice girl”. No, really, she is such a nice girl; salt of the earth in fact. This is according to Barry (in 25F, who repeated that refrain at least for times) with Debs – short for Debbie, which in turn is short for Deborah in 25E, next to me. Debs is trying to speak softly and nods when necessary, often just blurting a platitude, as insipid as parsley. (Actually, let me rephrase – since I just used some parsley in my meatballs a few nights ago and they made all the difference to what would otherwise have been bland!) Insipid as…as…as egg yolk! She would say: “I know!” or “That is life.” Or, if something a bit more cerebral was required she might say: “I’ve never had any reason to dislike Roy.” My manicurist from hell, pleeeeeeease? I am not allowed to bring razor blades on the aircraft, let alone poisoned ones!
On and on goes Barry who is obviously on Roy’s side about the “estrangedness”. It’s all Viv’s fault, you see!
The minute Roy lost his job with Barry’s company was the minute she (Viv) wanted the separation. She is only “in it for the money”, you see. For practically both the hours that we were airborne Barry went on and on and on about this family, with exhortations like (and I am paraphrasing here): “Roy really doesn’t deserve this. He is a good chap. She is the evil one.”
Debs doesn’t really agree but she was not going to say this as Barry was getting louder and louder the more he downed his brandy and Coke.
If this is indeed true about Roy, dear Barry, then why, pray tell, are we sitting with an au pair of a daughter who lives “in the London area” – as far away from her father as possible – and a drug addict of a son who Barry “wouldn’t trust with anything”? Apparently Roy does have a “new love interest” – a lovely younger girl who has no problem riding the Harley with him. Now I ask you with tears in my bloodshot eyes…where is the rub? Reeks of the old midlife crisis! Trade in the old for a newer model – and we’re not talking about the Harley here! And why am I sharing this with you? Cut off my legs and call me shorty…