[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]
I’ve always thought conversation was supposed to involve dialogue. One person says something, the other responds – agreeing or not, as the case may be. Doesn’t the prefix “con-“ mean “with?”
Many women, although not all, understand this. Most men I’ve met, although not all, don’t. It’s probably not a generational thing either, common only among those my age. I’ve sat listening to quite a few forty- and fifty-somethings go on and on about themselves, their children, friends, travels, politics, plans, employment (unless that’s so important and confidential it’s a no-no secret). If they pause for breath, your role is to ask a question that gets them going again. Useless to inject a comment or opinion. The torrent of monologue will roll right over it.
And when it’s time for them to leave or hang up, expressing pleasure at the visit or chat, you may realize afterwards that there’s been no expressed interest whatsoever in you and how you’re doing, beyond the pro forma preliminary “How are things?” – to which no answer beyond “Good, and how are you?” or its equivalent is required.
I no longer try to understand why this is. (Talk therapy too expensive?) What I now do is make efforts to watch it whenever I open my mouth, lest I turn into one of those old folks in need of company who go on talking about themselves and the good old days till they drive everyone away.