In The Company of Strangers 

In The Company of Strangers 

after two minutes

I knew this conversation

wasn’t going anywhere

it had started off so promising 

with an ‘I can’t wait to meet you

I’ve heard so much about you’

 

so we meet

we start to talk

and after a minute 

their eyes look around

at others

for others

for escape

 

we nod at the right times

chuckle at the right times

but aren’t looking at each other

eyes rove over one another’s shoulders

looking for some someone better

 

our attention intention

we showed in each other 

abruptly comprised

by the alluring promise

of others around us

of faces and smiles

of someone else to talk to

all of them is at least as interesting

all of who would only hold

our eager attention for a moment

because like the one 

who was so eager to meet them

our eyes would be darting

looking someone else

with bigger promise

bigger reputation

to be seen talking too

to be seen walking away from

to a better opportunity

 

because there is always a better opportunity

even when the one

in front of you is good enough

This ‘attention intention’ has happened to me so many times I’ve stopped bothering to make conversation at things like readings, workshops, book signings, people’s parties (even my own.) People want to be seen talking but rarely want to be seen listening 🙂 I have mastered the nod, frown, chuckle responses to the point where, much like them, I’m not fully listening as their eyes dart around the room for the person they were really waiting for.

Or if they aren’t placing around the room hey are glancing at their smart phone, or stopping in the middle of a chuckle to check their smart phone. The news feed from people not in the room being more commanding than the people foolish enough to be in the room. Or maybe they are texting or receiving  nods to someone else already in the room.

Occasionally someone does engage me in a ‘real’ conversation that starts with asking about me then quickly becomes them talking about themselves. I never discourage them. I know how to say things like ‘great’ or ‘that must be very stressful’ ‘tell me more.’ Which gives each of us a chance to glance over each other’s shoulder.

 

I no longer take such social interactions seriously or personally. At one time I did get miffed when eye contact couldn’t be maintained longer than it took to recognize each other. When someone say’s ‘it’s been great talking to you’ I know it really means the view over my shoulder was good. 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

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