Anyway, as much as I love to gab, there are just some conversations that…to say it with no expletives, I could do without. I think about them a lot, and I think about all the stuff I should have said to end the stupid conversation sooner. It’s the classic case of discovering the perfect comeback hours after the fact. Just the worst, right?
Me: That’s a cute wallet. Where did you get it?
Lady: Next door.
Me: Oh cool, really? I used to work there. For seven years, actually.
Lady: Yes, they sell wallets and things with this design. It’s a sugar skull, a Mexican tradition.
Me: Yeah, I know. When I was working there, we got a lot of that in. Isn't it cool?
Lady: They have it on t-shirts, wallets, pictures…
Me: Candles, tapestries, flags, I know.
Lady: Yes, they have it on little prayer flags that you can hang up. They come in all colors.
Me: …I know, like I said, I worked there for seven years--
Lady: They also have a lot of jewelry at that store, just so many unique designs. Lots of rings, and earrings. I see that you wear a lot of rings. You should go check them out over there.
Me: This one, this one, and this one are from there.
Lady: They also have a lot of necklaces...
This conversation actually happened with a lady at work (yes, this work). She had just ordered her drink, so being drunk was not an excuse. Besides the obvious annoying reasons why conversations like this make me wish that my hair was longer so that when I ripped it out from frustration I could braid it into a noose and murder the other person with it, I hate conversations like this because, as I've pointed out before, I'm not very smart. There is a lot in this world that I just don't know. Like where things are, or how they work, or what they do. Or anything beyond the most basic math problems. I'm not being coy, here; I'm not looking for compliments on my intellect in the same way that some might say that a dress is unflattering to get a reassurance of quality ass size (me. I would do that). But lets just say that if my life depended on how many Jeopardy questions I could answer--unless there was a category about literary theory, penguin trivia, or movie quotes--I probably wouldn't live very long.
But when I'm in a conversation with someone and I actually know enough of the subject matter to be a knowing contributor, I get excited. Then dumb people like Lady up there pop my balloons and verbally piss all over my parade. I imagine that it's the same feeling a redneck would have if the government finally collapsed and the gays and feminists and atheists came raiding his land to steal his guns and his women, and he finally gets to use that assault rifle he's been hoarding. Only his wife bought the wrong bullets on her way back from the supermarket. You finally have something useful, and no one can appreciate it. I promise that there was a shorter metaphor for that. But, again.
There was one time, however, that a conversation like this happened that I actually had to appreciate, in a twisted, disconcerting way. First of all, it happened over AIM, which is AOL Instant Messenger for all of you little bastards who never had to wait for the god damn dial up orchestra to announce a cease-and-desist for phone users just to send a message via writing. This was in the later days of AIM, which gives you a nice nostalgic feeling for my story.
As fates would have it, he was placed in a cell with an old family friend, who was there for reasons much less disturbing. They realized that they both knew me, and had some small talk. We all like to think that people think about us when we aren't around, and maybe they even talk. We hope that they say nice things. In this case, what was being said about me is irrelevant. The focus of that conversation is the location. Which was jail. This was shocking because I didn't think that I knew anyone in jail well enough to become a subject of conversation; it turns out that the number of convicted criminals I know makes up for that. Who knew!
Because these are real people with real lives and real families (and real Facebook accounts that might unfriend me and send me nasty messages), I'm going to call the first jailbird Marty Martinson, and his cellmate we will call Barty Bartinson. I'll spare you the shitty abbreviations and the quippy ScreenNames and streamline the conversation for better reading. Here is how the conversation went down:
(What I wanted to say was, "Oh, they have AIM in jail?" But I didn't.)
Marty: how are you?
Me: good, you?
Marty: so you know Barty Bartinson
Me: yeah, how do you know Barty?
Marty: he was my cell mate
(At which point I realized that he was no longer in jail and I felt stupid)
Me: Wow, small world. I basically grew up with Barty, our parents are best friends.
Marty: we talked about you
Marty: yeah we realized that we both know you
Marty: he lives in [town]
(Should be obvious that I know this already, but whatever.)
Me: I know, I've been to his house dozens of times.
Marty: he got arrested and went to jail a few months ago
Me: I know, his mom came over and told us all about it.
Marty: he got drunk and tried to rob a liquor store
Me: Yes, I know. Like I said, his mom and my mom are really close. I've known his whole family for years.
Marty: it was the middle of winter, he was caught walking barefoot home
(At home, with my short temper, I was flipping the fuck out. Thankfully, there was the computer as a mediator.)
Me: Yes, Marty, I know. His mom told me. Like, right after it happened. She told us all about it.
Marty: he knew you growing up, he's been to your house before
Me: Yup. I've gotta go.
Marty: okay bye
Me: Peace out
(Because I always ended my conversations with "peace out" back then. How cool was I? The coolest.)
You know what? Maybe I'm being too hard on ol' Marty Martinson. He had a conversation about me in jail, which is still weird to me, and then had the courtesy of telling me about it. Or might have, if I hadn't bailed on the conversation to go Hulk-smash a new window into my bedroom walls to ease my irritation. It's always been a bit drafty in here since then.