Monday, October 1, 2012

Adults Speaking

It's amazing what you hear if you stop talking for a minute and listen to your own conversation. Do adults know how they sound when they talk?
 I don't know why, but adults, specifically adult women, feel obliged to laugh every thirty seconds during an unremarkable conversation with a teenager. This usually happens when you don't know the woman-she's your mom's friend, an aunt you rarely see, somebody who moved out of your neighborhood years ago but knew you as a toddler.
First they'll run through what I like to call the grandparent questions.
"How are you?"
"How old are you now?"
"So that means you're in...which grade?"
"What school do you go to?"
"Do you like it?"
"What's your favorite class?"
Then they'll ask about your one hobby. It doesn't matter how many hobbies you have, or even if you're no longer interested in that hobby. They know you as the girl who dances or the boy who plays football, and they'll ask how that is going.
So in other words, small talk. The conversation continues to be dry as you move towards a real subject. In effort to salvage it, she'll laugh at anything you say. Sometimes this is an awkward laugh because you haven't answered the questions right.
"No, I'm fifteen, not thirteen, and that means I'm a sophomore, not a ninth grader."
"All my classes are boring."
"What have I been doing lately? Homework, mostly. And sleeping when I can squeeze it in."
Blunt honesty doesn't bode well. So they decide you're being funny. Or you're trying to be funny but you're not a particularly brilliant person, so they laugh out of pity. Or you're being sarcastic, as all teenagers are, and they just accept it.  You can tell them the bland facts of life like-
"Is it 9:30 already? I'd better get home and eat dinner."
"You haven't eaten dinner yet?"
 "No. My parents are on a date, so they just told me to microwave some leftover pizza when I got hungry."
"But aren't you hungry by now?"
"How can anybody be hungry for microwaved leftover pizza before they have to be?"
-and then they laugh.
Did I miss something here?

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