Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alone in a Crowd

My wife and I were talking the other night (something that most happily married couples do), and out of the blue she asked me whether I'm getting tired of trying to carry on conversations with people with whom I have nothing in common. In case you haven't guessed, I'm not very conversational. I am, in fact, learning to stand alone in a crowd. I've learned too often that the thoughts in my head are often unique to me, and if I try to share them, I find that those around me either don't understand or don't care. I have two examples immediately in mind.

Just a week ago, we were at an appreciation dinner for facilitators of our parish's Why Catholic program. The conversation at our table somehow turned to television, and on of the ladies asked if I ever seen the new show Castle. I admitted that I hadn't, but I really enjoyed Nathan Fillion's acting, especially as Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity. An awkward silence followed, so I explained that Firefly was a sci-fi series that only lasted half a season, yet was made into a successful motion picture. Eyes glazed over, and I reluctantly abandoned the topic.

A couple of years ago, I was at our local Oktoberfest. It's a big festival that brings in lots of people from out of town. The polka band playing in the Gazebo launched into a rendition of Country Road. My mind immediately leaped to a version, Concrete Road, from the Japanese anime film Whisper of the Heart. I looked around at the crowd and knew that there was probably not another soul there with whom I could share the association.

It is rare that I find someone who shares my interests and with whom I can carry on an enthusiastic conversation. In the meanwhile, I won't give up on trying to converse with normal people, but I'm learning to be alone in the crowd.


wife, mother and so much more! said...

I have to admit--I wonder how we even "hooked-up"? Everyone knows that I'm the conversationalist in our family; animai, science fiction..isn't something that I talk about either. Most of the time I don't even understand your blog--sorry babe!! I guess that you can say that we complement each other very well!! ;)

Russ Martin (AKA "Steeple Chaser") said...

Kurt, you sound like the guy no one wants to play Trivia Pursuit with.

As for conversation, I think it's becoming a dying art. A conversation is the sharing of information not just one-person listening. When I find my self at a social gathering I am surprised at how many people will go so far as to answer a question but offer nothing further to the discussion. The last meaningful discussion I had with someone (Other than my wife and kids) was at a Hospital function with a Doctor I had just met. We worked together through the initial part of discussion to find a common ground. Turns out he attends the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. We talked about the recent renovation, church history, etc. Like you Kurt I always enjoy a good conversation and have learned to value them when I find them.

wife, mother and so much more! said...

Russ, I need to totally agree---I HATE playing Trivia Pursuit with Kurt!!!
You're also right about conversation becoming a dying art, I think that I need to work on my conversational skills a bit better. I have such a hard time striking a converstation with others, especially in a large group

Kurt H said...

A few years ago, I received a Trivial Pursuit: Lord of the Rings Edition game for Christmas. I couldn't get anyone to play with me! Still, on very long drives, it's fun to have a passenger read the questions off the cards to me while I drive.