Last night Lisa stopped by on her way home from San Francisco in order to listen to me complain about how an old boyfriend of mine "doesn't react enough" to my stories. Leading me to suspect (as I do on a regular basis) that I'm a horrible, terrible, really awful conversationalist.
That suspicion led to a whole host of others, most along the lines of the overwhelming evidence that exists to show that I'm bad person, but this train of reasoning was interrupted when Lisa asked, "In the past, have you asked him to hold his responses until the end?"
Long story here. Lisa's from NYC. And I don't think her brain ever moved west. She's maddeningly reactive, jumping in at any intake of breath to conjecture on the six ways you might end that next sentence. I've yelled at her and yelled at her to stop interrupting me, until last week when I finally yelled at her to react more. "Don't just nod! This is huge!" "Oh, sorry, I didn't think you were finished with the story." "I'm not!" It was just, um, lonely without her commentary. I want her interruptions back. Once again, the laugh's on me. Even more so because a few days ago someone criticized me for doing that exact same interrupting thing.
Anyway, no, I didn't ever train my old boyfriend not to interrupt, then forget and wish he'd interrupt more. That's the kind of thing I reserve for Lisa. With that settled, she thoughtfully remarked, "I notice you don't make those lists anymore."
It took me a minute to understand what she was talking about. Then I remembered: quite often I appear at, say, a coffee get-together with a friend, holding a small list of the conversational topics I plan to address. And before Lisa mentioned that I no longer do that, it never, ever hit me how superfreaky weird that is.
Jesus Christ, somebody butterfly net me now. Lists! Of stuff to talk about! And not because I'm worried that we won't think of anything to say. No, it's because I think we'll forget. I create little meeting agendas in order to make the conversation more fucking efficient. Seriously, how is this woman still hanging out with me?
What's even more hilarious is that she's just seen the tip of the iceberg. Those lists are drafted for phone conversations, emails, relatives, neighbors -- wherever there's more than two topics of conversation -- or even one if I have to keep track of it for a week -- a list finds its way into being. How did I become this person? More intriguingly, how did I stop?
I remember rushing to the entry table to retrieve my conversation list whenever Lisa stopped by. I even remember adding to the written agenda during the conversation itself. I just don't remember when it was I abandoned the ridiculously goofy practice.
Lisa told me that she kinda misses the lists. As for me, I miss the spontaneous, unconstrained reactions that lovingly say, "You're fascinating. Now tell me more about your recent discovery of Harry Potter fan porn. "