I try not to be deliberately unkind. I don't always manage, but I do think kindness is important. I attempt, at very least, to be polite. I never dismiss people.
Because of this, I used to always be the target of the crazy person on the bus and get stuck in dreadful airplane conversations. I've learned how to avoid the latter, at least most of the time.
What I'm not good at is shutting down conversation in bars. This I just do not know how to do gracefully. And so I will be bitterly stuck in endlessly dull conversation.
Saturday night Kelli and I were deep in conversation when a guy asked if he could join us, and parked himself on the low table in front of us. He was probably a perfectly nice human being. Just really boring. And boy, could he talk.
I literally had nothing to say to him. I could, and did, nod in response, but nothing he said triggered any kind of, well, anything from me. Except boredom.
Kelli is nice, and could hold a conversation with a brick wall and make it seem interesting if she had to. So she was chatting politely. But mostly he was just talking at us. I wasn't sure what he wanted. Was he just looking for an audience?
And I was sitting there pretending to look at him, but actually making lists of things I needed to do when I got back to DC (laundry, go for a run, PEPCO bill, file nails. . .) thinking, "Oh, you're so tedious! And how much more can you talk? And, wait, are you honest to god telling us you made an aerobics video in the 90s?"
When I tuned back in, the man, who had been expounding at length on a variety of topics, had moved on to the subject of comedians. He was talking about two that I'd never heard of.
Mainly he was talking to Kelli. And nothing was required of me. So I just sat there, nodding, without saying anything. Because what would I say?
At some point he said, "Lisa has no idea who these people are."
Kelli agreed with him.
He looked straight at me. "And she doesn't think I'm funny."
I couldn't deny it. I just sat there, eyebrows raised, mouth in an O, a little like a deer in headlights.
Then he asked, "So, Lisa, what do you think is funny?"
He caught me so off guard! Forced to respond, I said, "To be honest, at the moment I can't think of a single thing I think is funny."
He looked a little taken aback.
"Except Kelli. I think Kelli is hilarious."
And I smiled at him. Because I didn't want him to feel bad.
Except that my smile? Was not, it turns out, a smile.
It was, as Kelli pointed out after the man rapidly excused himself, more of a grimace. If you want to know what this looked like, do the following:
Stand in front of a mirror and clench your teeth shut. Then pull back your lips to bare all of your teeth. You know, kind of like those pictures of angry monkeys in National Geographic. Make sure the rest of your face is blank.
Apparently, that's exactly what I did. It's no wonder he fled.
After Kelli demonstrated my "smile," she, Christy and I took turns making up insincere statements and grimacing at each other. Then we took pictures. We even got Dr. Jason to do it.
"Oh, that's so funny." TEETH CLENCH
"Why, of course you're not boring me with the details of your bowel obstruction." TEETH CLENCH
"So awesome that you made an aerobics video in the 90s." TEETH CLENCH
We entertained ourselves for a good while like this. We explained to one very cute guy how you have to say something completely disingenuous and then do the face.
We demonstrated with limp handshake and a lackluster, "It was so nice to meet you." TEETH CLENCH
He thought it looked like the face you'd make if you were constipated.