Hell Is Other People’s Small Talk

In an effort to be more creative, I’m going to start writing some posts based on prompts from this website. Bear with me and be gentle. 

‘So, what kind of music do you listen to?’

My skin crawls straight away. I like music, I really do, and on a good day I could happily talk about music until the cows came home. Yet you ask me this question and suddenly I can’t think of one singer or band that I would go as far as to call myself a fan of. Discussing musical tastes becomes the last thing on earth that I want to do in that very moment.

‘Er, well, I like a bit of everything really.’

This is as much as I can manage and I watch your face drop. How utterly boring, you must think, and the conversation limps along from there. This feels like a repeat of every awkward conversation I’ve ever had. It brings back vivid and haunting memories of attempting small talk at parties with strangers, crippled by shyness and barely able to choke out a few words between sips of blue WKD and drags on a cigarette.

Music could, and perhaps should, be the great equaliser. Maybe for a whole host of people – people who are not me – it actually is. Conversations about music must take place all the time, between people who aren’t really sure what to say to each other or why they’re even talking to each other, and a shared obsession with Radiohead will put them on a common ground and maybe even spark a friendship.

Then there’s me. I stutter out some old tripe about liking everything, even though that’s not really an answer to the question hanging in the air, and uncomfortably bat it back to you. Stunted by my inability to name even one band, you do the only thing you can do – repeat my answer.

‘Yeah, I kind of like everything too.’

Fake smiles tighten and we both go to take a drink from our glasses. The conversation fragments and we each seek solace in another discussion that’s not so painful to participate in.

Next time, ask me about books.

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6 thoughts on “Hell Is Other People’s Small Talk

  1. Gah story of my life. I may or may not have practiced saying my favorite bands and why I like them in front of the mirror before going to a party or social gathering. Awkward much? Naaah.

  2. I do the same thing! Mainly because my musical growth seems to have stunted around 2006. “Oh, I listen to the same indie rock from the early 2000s over and over again” is also a good conversation stopper.

  3. I usually throw that question back at the person who asked it before I say anything else, and then I hope to God they already have an answer prepared. If I’m lucky they’ll say something interesting, but most of the time it’s exactly as you’ve described.

  4. I haaaate awkward small talk. And I always get so annoyed with myself when someone asks me my favorite books or movies because I’m like WHY can I not think of ANYTHING?? I like so many things, but when you’re put on the spot it all disappears for some reason!

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