Party conversations veer from polite to TMI – Sentinel-Standard

By Kristy Smith

Its always interesting to have small talk with someone because it gives you a good indication of how his/her mind works and a general sense of his/her parameters and priorities. Everyone today seems willing to chat about the three Ps: pandemics, politics and personal business of weird nature.

I had extended breeze-shooting time with friends, family and strangers at the many summer graduation open houses I attended with my daughter. Silly me, I assumed the fact we were at upbeat social gatherings would set a positive tone for the conversations among the guests. But I assumed wrong.

What do I mean? While traveling the open house circuit/circus, I received more unsolicited, personal life details than I gave out congratulatory cards and checks. Everyone seemed to be talking out their butts and/or wanting to give me an earful of info I didnt want in my ear or anywhere else. Verbal diarrhea ran unchecked.

It reminded me of the time I was grocery shopping with my two (then) elementary-aged children in the county where I used to be a probation agent. We were spotted by a woman whod been on my former caseload. After a quick hello, and "long-time-no-see" chitchat, she proceeded to unload all the sordid details of a CSC case in which her boyfriend was involved. I nearly upchucked in the reusable shopping bags Id brought with me.

When I managed to interrupt with a "Hey, were blocking the bread aisle and Ive got my kids with me," she waved a hand dismissively and said, "Oh, I dont think my boyfriend would care about them hearing his business, hes pretty open about it."

As if he were the one I was concerned about! But his personal business open-door policy would definitely fit in with the open house conversations I was victim of this year.

For some reason, perhaps because I dress like someones school guidance counselor (counseling is my grad degree) or on account of my possessing an "everywoman" face, I found myself a reluctant party to inappropriate talk from fellow guests.

Heck, no, I didnt initiate it. I was just there for the graduate and the food, but nevertheless got dragged onto the set as an unwilling extra on what felt to be a shocking episode of second-hand drama that was centered around people I mostly didnt know.

One parent confided what an SOB the other parent of the graduate was, and why he shouldnt be there, even though it was their mutual kid being honored. Another person told me over red frosting-lettered graduation cake the details of her recent hysterectomy and the failed treatment measures that had necessitated it. She also lectured me on abortion rights and why she needed to know where every political candidates abortion stance (presumably including the drain commissioner) before she could consider voting for him/her.

I guess I deserve partial blame, as one conversation I initiated (by innocently commenting that the heavy rain earlier in the day had kindly given way to a very nice afternoon for a graduation celebration) is what opened the floodgates to the other party guest discussing the murder of a family member. Im not making this up!

My favorite inappropriate conversation of the graduation open house season was the man who gave me two off-kilter pieces of information for the price of one, after cornering me and a friend. First, while my friend was refilling her drink, he shared with me that one of his siblings had been missing for three decades. Not sure what I did to warrant that admission.

But his second bit of party conversation weirdness trumped all: "Have you ever wondered if the Earth is really as flat as it looks?" he asked me and my friend, pseudo-casually, gesturing toward the horizon with a pasta salad-laden plastic fork. His point became clear: he was a Flat-Earther. We both kept such straight faces during Flat-Earthers attempted indoctrination of us that we each thought each other was drinking the Kool-Aid.

"Maybe his sibling disappeared when he was out cutting the grass and accidentally drove his lawnmower off the edge of the earth," I later suggested to my friend. "It would beat continually hearing TMI."

Kristy Smiths Different Drum humor columns are archived at her blog:diffdrum.wordpress.com.

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Party conversations veer from polite to TMI - Sentinel-Standard

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