Monday, January 25, 2010

Hey phatic boom boom

I am not like anyone else you know. I'm pretty confident of that. I'm unique. You are too, but you probably don't know it.

I don't seem it to people I meet, I'm sure. I just look like a generic, ordinary fellow, a bit bigger than some, okay to look at, nothing special.

The other day, someone said to me -- and she wasn't the first -- that she thought I just wasn't interested in other people, because I don't ask the usual, boring questions. But I am topsy turvy like this: if I'm not interested in you, or you didn't make a good impression, I will ask you about your job, where you live, what the film you watched last night was like. If you want to know that I think you're dull, you'll know it because I do all that and we're done five minutes in.

If I want to know about you, I will let you reveal yourself. For me, to capture someone involves setting them free. I bind you to me by allowing you to roam. I am waiting for my chance to ask you about what really matters. I can easily find out what you do for a job, and you'll tell me if I don't ask, anyway, but it's harder to find out what matters to you really, what you love, what you desire, what you hope for, what makes your bell resound.

Who cares about what you do for a living? You reveal that readily. What makes you shake? What could a person do to you that you would make your stomach flip? How could you be touched and it would be the right way?

So this person says, you met my husband and didn't even ask him what he does. And I said, he does this and he works for so and so, and he comes from here and you and he did this last year. Because she had conveyed all that in the standard way, and I remembered. Because this is how you can become good at writing, at thinking even: you observe closely. Most people ask their list of six questions and don't even listen to the answers. I listen. If I want to know who you are, I listen to the way you say it, the small things in what you say that reveal what you feel about what you are saying, the lacunae that reveal more about you than the words you surround them with.


I know, I should try harder with phatic communication. It seems odd to people if you don't bother with it much. But I figure, it's only the people I actually care about who I don't talk small with much. And you'd hope they'd understand in other ways that I'm genuinely interested in them. Also, I do every other thing in social communication. I say hello, how are ya, goodbye, safe journey, shake your hand, kiss you if we're kissing friends, hug you if we hug. I'm not autistic: smiles don't confuse me.


Anyway, enough about me. Tell me about you.

Well, that's the thing actually. I hate talking about myself. I'm not interesting. I'm a reactive, hollow sort of person. I don't have anything inside that you need to pull out. I'm okay with it. It's what makes me unique: I'm content not to reach for the stars--I already think I hold them inside and that's what counts.

Sometimes, anyway.


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