By Kyra Arndt
Talking to people – mankind has long been infected by this plague. A more recent plague has disrupted this pattern, and in our days of recovery, many find it hard to fall back into comfortable exchanges. However, instead of being discouraged and anxious in regards to this situation, I suggest we use these circumstances to reinvent what conversation can be. Gone are the days of idle small talk originating from unintriguing openers. Before us lies a bright, glorious future. To achieve such a vision, I will supply you with the dos and don’ts of conversation, so our society may soon enter a conversational utopia.
DO make an intelligent observation about your environment.
Note the word intelligent. Do not say you’re cold or that it’s windy outside. Do comment about the cloud that looks like a rhino holding a Mickey Mouse balloon, about your thoughts of the hidden message of hotel art, or about the faults of your workplace’s interior design. Use the sights around you and your big, beautiful opinionated brain to fathom your own unique observation.
DON’T ask about one’s future.
This tip especially applies when talking to younglings, when asking the ever-favorite, “What are you going to do after school?” What is just a simple conversation starter for you is an existential crisis for me. Darling, I haven’t a clue what direction I want to take this life of mine, but one always presses for a more satisfactory answer than, “I don’t know.” Why must we constantly fixate on the future when we have the present at hand? Let me seize the day, and don’t dare make me fret about tomorrow.
DO talk about the weather.
Perhaps this is not what you were expecting me to say. But we are blessed to live in Minnesota, where the weather is (actually) interesting. Observe blizzards one day, but then watch it all melt away a week later. Too-hot-to-function summers, throw-boiling-water-and-watch-it-turn-to-snow winters. Yet, we have the perfect autumn, even if it lasts approximately two days. God gifted Minnesotans with an ever-changing, universal conversation starter, for the small price of thermal misery.
DON’T be wrong about politics.
Now, I won’t outlaw political talk altogether – we’ve got to spice up our lives somehow. But when it comes to politics, just be sure you are always correct. Be on this side – not that side, not the side your annoying uncle is on. Be on your side. The correct side. Die protecting it.
DO ask one’s favorite letter.
Last night, I woke up in a frenzy, for it had just occurred to me that nobody has ever asked me what my favorite letter of the alphabet is. Why not? We ask for people’s favorite color, favorite animal, heck, even their favorite number. But never a letter. Those poor, penniless forgotten 26 letters composing the English language as we know it. Wars have been fought and bonds have been made all thanks to the combination of 26 wondrous letters. Think about it—without letters, this article wouldn’t exist; it would be nonessential, for there would never be any conversations to be had! Even so, we do not repay the alphabet. We treat it as a topic for feeble children. We do not consider letters worthy of choosing; we cannot fathom valuing them enough to give one the title of favorite after rigorous competition. I implore you to join my mission to right such a wrong. Send this question out into the world! As for me? My favorite letter is “a.”
DON’T say a quick goodbye.
It is considered rude to abruptly hang up on a phone call. Likewise, I consider it rude to abruptly end a conversation. (Or an article, for that matter. So, let this be your warning, dear reader. Our time together, although I value it immensely, will soon come to an end.) Now it is time to make use of your Minnesotan goodbye. Say “farewell” in the living room, then the entryway, then the car. Promise to meet your friends, old and new, again promptly, so you may continue your marvelous, newly-improved conversation.
Kyra Arndt is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of 17 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 24th year.