I take the act of avoiding small talk as seriously as the pentagon does counter-terrorism. It’s not like I ever have anywhere important to be, but it still grinds my ass when someone tries to impede the process of me getting from point A to point B. Point A is where I am now, point B is where I’d like to be in the near future, and standing between the two hypothetical points is motor-mouth Marty.
Listening to someone with irritable-mouth syndrome is like winding up a pair of those chattering teeth toys. Five minutes of watching someone’s head bob back and fourth, their hands mimicking every word spewing from their mouths, and I’m reaching for the Dramamine.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of useless information, and I find it troublesome to know how many twits are wandering around, aimlessly in search of someone to sort out their lives for them – free of charge. This just in: I’m not your psychologist. However, based on the information that I just learned about you (against my free will), I’d highly recommend consulting one.
It’s a predator versus prey world and preparedness is the key to surviving it.
Here’s a handy how-to guide to help identify and fight back against these persistent blabber-mouths:
This kind of talker insures you’ll walk away from the conversation feeling like an absolute failure at life. A few steps in the other direction and you’ll already be reassessing your weak retirement plan, lousy career path — maybe even contemplating marriage counseling. He’s god’s gift to humanity, and failure is a foreign concept to him.
His impressive life resume backs it up.
How to combat a Bragger:
Never attempt to one-up a bragger. Any attempt to do so will be countered with more bragging. Your best bet is to just lie down and play dead – figuratively of course (literal translation my lead to bigger problems). Appear dejected. After all, that’s what he wants: to make you feel like a turd on the bottom of his shoe.
The key to beating a Bragger is to let him beat you. The quicker he destroys your dignity, the better your odds of getting home in time for Wheel of Fortune.
Whenever I hear the phrase, let me tell you a quick story, I can immediately deduce from it two things: 1.) This is going to be anything but quick, and/or 2.) I won’t be interested in whatever bullshit you are itching to ramble about. Storyteller Steve is always well-traveled and lives to tell tall-tales. None of them are true.
How to combat Storyteller Steve:
Timing is everything with this type, and the remedy must be administered before the onset of the story. When the person uses the phrase “let me tell you a story”, place your hand on your pocket quickly, then reach for your phone. Place your pointer finger in the air as if to say, “one second please”. Then, hold a mock conversation with the imaginary person on the other end, using words and phrases that imply an urgent matter of some kind. Example words/phrases to use are: “Now?” or “You’ll be there in ten minutes?” or “He died?”
Pretend to end the call and politely excuse yourself from the conversation.
Too Much Information Guy
These types will share every intimate detail of their lives with complete strangers. Medical procedures, incontinence issues, a rocky divorce – anything goes. Listening to this type makes me feel like a nurse or a psychologist. I always feel like I should be seated in a leather chair while jotting notes on a yellow legal pad. Be grateful that I’m not your therapist. If I were, I would probably suggest a few unorthodox ways of treating your issues.
How to combat Too Much Information Guy:
This type is extremely fragile, so you don’t want to do anything to further upset him/her. Your best bet is to act concerned about the problem, then suggest they seek a professional opinion immediately. Reiterate the urgency part. If possible, dial the phone number of whatever service they are in need of and hand them the phone.
Being that it’s another election year (oh goody), Political Pete is out trudging the campaign trail in massive numbers. He enjoys collecting bumper stickers and yard signs, spreading political e-mails, and trying to convert citizens of the opposite party. Most of these idiots don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to sound like a fox news correspondent. Flinging mud and spreading false information is what Political Pete does best.
Whenever approached, avoid eye contact.
How to combat Political Pete:
Whatever you do, do not express your political views. Doing so will further extend the conversation and add fuel to the debate. In the past I’ve recommended people void themselves from the conversation by stating that they are not a U.S. citizen, which would implicate that said person does not have voting rights. However, this information is outdated, and may lead to an altercation if he/she is a supporter of the national rifle association, and/or a resident of the state of Texas.
The most current and effective method for dealing with Political Pete is simple: ask him to provide you with a bumper sticker, then run hightail it in the opposite direction while he’s digging through the trunk.
Having to listen to someone’s uppity, know-it-all banter about the after-life makes me want to send that person there myself. If you’re that giddy about whatever comes next then why the hell are you wasting your time here? God, if you’re listening to me right now, please let the floor open up under Religious Rick the next time he’s standing in front of me.
He desperately wants to meet you.
How to Combat Religious Rick:
This one is a bit more dramatic, but it’s a lot of fun when executed properly. Make sure you know the person’s name before you begin. While the person is conducting their sermon, drop to the ground and begin thrashing around like you’re possessed. Add flair by cussing and spitting, and if possible, try to foam at the mouth. Finally, cap it off by yelling gibberish, and be sure to use the person’s name during your performance.
Before you can wipe the spittle from your chin, Religious Rick will be running for the holy water.
I know from experience.
– On guard, Chowderheads \m/