Sunday was Brownie awards day.
My wife, 6 year old daughter, and I went to the host family's house for the end of the school year awards presentation. It was a beautiful spring day and we gathered in the kitchen and on the spacious deck at a very nice house. As people arrived they picked up their beverage of choice and mingled.
I have to admit that this is a crowd that is a little outside my normal social circle. Well, my wife might point out that I don't exactly belong to any social circles. I never have. I never fit in and this event reinforced why. I grew up in a family of modest means. My wife grew up poor. I'm now a successful electrical engineer and computer programmer and I whore myself out to the highest bidder as a contractor/consultant/instructor. We live in a nice neighborhood, but we definitely live in the least expensive section of an otherwise very upscale subdivision that adjoins some very high end subdivisions. So, many of the people in the group have silly amounts of money.
I like to talk. I talk to much. I know this and I try to pay attention and cut it short if I seem to be boring someone. I've learned the benefits of listening more and talking less. But I've never picked up the art of mindless banter and chit-chat. It just seems so, well, mindless. And apparently that is all that this group is capable of. I repeatedly found myself talking to turned heads and repeatedly had people abruptly end conversations to start talking to someone else or in some cases get distracted and just walk away. It never happened when they were talking, of course, but many seemed genuinely incapable of listening to anyone else except themselves. And it wasn't just me. I saw them do it over and over again to other people too.
I used to take things like this personally. Sometimes it's my own fault but I've realized that often it's not. Some people are just so self-absorbed that they really aren't interested in listening. It's a shame because they might discover that they aren't the center of the universe and that there is a whole world out there full of interesting ideas and experiences that they can't even imagine. I wound up sitting there drinking a Diet Coke and watching the interactions with amusement.
I no longer have any aspirations to be one of the pretty, popular people. They are just too boring. I'd rather hang out at the race track and talk motorcycles with the racers. Or sit in a coffee shop and talk about life with a friend. I prefer those kinds of personal, one on one interactions with meaningful, personal, and revealing conversations.