36 years old, and I still haven’t mastered small talk.
Take last Friday, for example. I was riding the office elevator with two guys I didn’t know. “Golfing tomorrow?” the first guy asked.
“Nah,” the second guy answered. “I need to clean the gutters.”
“I need to do that, too,” the first guy said. “And break out the lawn mower.” He looked at me with a friendly smile. “You know?”
I didn’t know, but I smiled back and said, “Right.” They seemed to expect more from me, so I added a quick laugh for punctuation and shifted my laptop bag from one shoulder to the next. There was nothing left to do then but nod politely as the elevator descended. It was an awkward ride.
As the doors slid open and we exited to the first floor, I resolved to start using the stairs, no matter how high my heels might be.
If I had my way, I’d put a moratorium on small talk. It’s not that I don’t want to hear about you, because actually I do, very much so. Let’s just make sure we agree to talk about something interesting. Don’t even think about the weather. Instead, tell me what crossed your mind during your morning commute. Or say whom you’re more like–your mother or your father. Or explain what you were like as a kid. Now THERE’s a conversation. Give me THAT. In fact, let’s grab a Starbucks, and you can start from the very beginning.
I want one day—just one day—with no internal filter at all. I’m not saying we should all start overwhelming each other with our personal histories. I just mean we should try harder to talk about and do what’s worthwhile. That’s an inviting and infectious thought, right? It creeps up and digs in and expands until I find myself dreaming up ways to live this life more loudly. I’m now at an age where I know myself pretty well. I’ve built a sweet life with the people I love most. We’re happy together, and I think we should quite selfishly try to be even happier. What’s wrong with that? Why apologize for it?
That’s why I’m using today (my 36th birthday) as an excuse to kick off this project—“36 by 37”—where I’ll attempt to do 36 things I’ve never done, all before I turn 37. I want to bring my husband and two small sons along when I can. And I’m going to document each experience in this blog, because—guess what?—I’ve never blogged before! See? See how this works?
This will be the year I will:
- Attend the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade. It’s a chance to merge two of my big loves: 1) giant, rowdy Irish celebrations, and 2) my favorite U.S. city.
- Learn to really hit a baseball. I mean drive it right down the line. Take that, high school gym teacher whose name I can’t remember!
- Double down at a Vegas blackjack table. You know that scene from Swingers where Vince tells Mikey to double down on 11, because you ALWAYS double down on 11, so Mikey does and loses $200? Love.
- Attend the opera. Just because I’ve always wanted to. And so I shall.
- Take an impromptu road trip. The plan is to close my eyes, drop a finger on the map, pack up the fellas and GO.
- Give my compliments to the chef. This will be the subject of my next post. I’ve already made reservations.
- Sneak backstage to meet the band. But not just any band. I need to give this some serious thought.
- Walk my kindergartener to his first day of school. Can’t talk about this yet. Excited. Nostalgic. Proud. Distraught. The internal conflict, it is too much.
- Have cocktails with someone famous. Jon Stewart? Let’s make this happen. I promise I won’t be scary with my unabashed adoration.
- Test-drive some gorgeous, vintage car. I’ll take Mrs. Calloway’s baby blue Jaguar.
- Finally, finally start guitar lessons. By stealth. In other words, by eavesdropping on Henry’s and Ollie’s lessons.
- And…25 other TBD experiences
If you have ideas for me, I want to hear them. If you want to help, raise your hand. And if you have your own firsts, I hope you’ll tell me all about them. We adventurers need to stick together, after all. And besides, small talk doesn’t happen here.
One entry down, 35 to go. So far, age 36 looks just fine from where I’m sitting.
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