Small talk leads to major annoyance

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

I felt naked as I left for work Monday, but it was a good feeling.

A few blocks into my drive to work, I realized I left my cell phone at home, and it felt as if I were going to work while missing an item of clothing.

I never went back for my “clothing.” If this were my driver’s license or a significant amount of spending money, I’m turning around. This, however, was my cell phone. There wasn’t much chance I’d miss an important call, and my forgetfulness might actually benefit me.

Frequent readers of my column know I hate nothing more than unnecessary cellular phone communication, and it’s a symptom of a larger trait.

My name is Kevin Wilson, and I hate small talk.

As somebody who’s worked in the field of communications most of his adult life, I’ve come to the belief that communication serves to inform, entertain and persuade. Small talk goes 0-for-3, and that’s why I hate it.

It started in college, when my social circle expanded and scores of people would acknowledge the fact that they knew my name. I would see somebody who vaguely knew me, and I’d get the standard, “Hey Kevin, how are you doing?”

The easy response was, “Good, how are you?” I didn’t do that. I gave them an answer, whether the day was great, OK or sub par.

People would get uncomfortable because my response took them out of their comfort zone, and friends would call me a jerk for doing it.

My friends were the jerks, though. I was studying a field where I expected answers for every question I asked, so I felt it appropriate to give answers to every question that came my way. If somebody doesn’t like having a question answered, they shouldn’t ask rhetorical questions in an insincere attempt to be polite.
I still despise small talk, and it’s led to some really strange situations.

Situations like last week when I went to get a haircut, and the woman cutting my hair tried to tempt me with small talk. Question after question came from this sweet, attractive girl, and each time she was shot down with a quick answer from yours truly — it’s usually Mr. Wilson on the receiving end of the shootdown.

Or there are situations where I try to move small talk into something meaningful, and I say something offensive. I found out a friend of mine smoked marijuana, and I tried to open up the small talk by giving her my theory on marijuana, incorporated from comedian Todd Barry.

“I believe we should legalize pot, but throw potheads in jail,” I told her. “If you don’t understand why it makes sense, you’re a pothead.”

My disdain for small talk may hurt me all my life, and it’s something I’ve come to accept.

Of course, there is the possibility that I’m just a jerk, which also adequately explains everything you’ve read.

If you’ve got an opinion on the matter, feel free to let me know. But be prepared for a long response.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be reached at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail:
kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com