One of the skills that I would have to re-train myself for once the ECQ is lifted (and I survive this pandemic!) is talking to people face to face. I am neither the most articulate nor the most engaging speaker in daily conversations, but whatever interpersonal skills I possess have been eroded by prolonged isolation. In particular I predict that I would once again fall into the trap of using a lot uhms and aaahs, and that I would have difficulty transitioning from one thought to another. I might also need to work on being quick on my feet to come up with small talk.
Unlike most people who claim to hate small talk, I have come to love small talk. There’s no commitment, and there’s no deception either–the one you’re chatting with knows you’re small-talking, and your goal is to just fill-up dead space and get out of the situation you are momentarily trapped in. This is not applicable when the one you’re conversing with is a potentially crazy stalker, in which case any small talk is automatically misconstrued as a grand pronouncement of your secret desire to fuck.
While most of my friends are just innately chatty, it took me decades of practice to hone the skill. This calls to mind an incident over fifteen years ago when I was moonlighting as a general physician in Boracay. According to our “chief resident” then (my friend Chepoy), the primary requirement for the doctors going on duty was to make “chika to the highest level” to all patients–no uncomfortable silences, no tapping of pens while waiting for lab results, and such. Being an untrained schizoid this has proven to be quite a challenge, but I surprised–and frankly quite annoyed–myself most of the time. One 11 pm though, I was spent and had no small talk left in me:
German woman: Thanks for cleaning my vound. How long do we have to wait for this anti-tetanus skin test?
Me: Er… (in pure horror) 30 minutes.
German woman: Okay.
German woman: So.
Me: How long have you been in Boracay?
German woman: 2 weeks.
Me: Vonderful. Can you tell me ALL the activities you’ve had so far?
And thus were 30 minutes consumed.