Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Now This Guy Knows How to End a Conversation

As readers of this blog will know, many people have great difficulty ending conversations with acquaintances they run into on the street. After running through all the possible topics of conversation- happenings in our lives, friends we both know, the weather- an uncomfortable silence sinks in. Some people let the silence hang there and then unsuccessfully try to get the conversation started again - myself included. But others, that chosen few, seize the silence as an opportunity to end the interaction on a high note.

It is with this background in mind that I recount my interaction with my middle school gym teacher, Mr. Middleton, at a diner near my school. I was sitting with my friend Sam when we noticed Mr. Middleton. And then, Mr. Middleton wowed me with his skills of ending conversations- he ran through all the topics he felt we had in common, i.e. adolescent basketball - and then he high-tailed out of there. Note that this is the second time an older person has ended a conversation with me because they had better things to do:

Me: Mr. Middleton, I hear you're retiring, congratulations

Mr. Middleton: Hey, uh (recognizing us but not really remembering our names). You boys still playin' ball?

Sam: I play pick-up basketball sometimes

Me: I was actually in a hoops league last fall

Mr. Middleton: That's great, that's great. So I guess all those years of gym ball really paid off.

(very short awkward pause)

Me: So how is--

Mr. Middleton: Well keep on playin', boys.
(Mr. Middleton walks off)

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