‘Hey, what do you think of that guy’s shirt?’
Which one? Oh, that tall, dark, almost-bald man wearing a pinstriped shirt that enhances his already-large belly?
“Er — nothing.”
‘Ok. How about that girl’s skirt? I mean who wears long skirts to work anymore, huh?’
Anyone who wants to, I guess. After all, some people find skirts are comfortable to move around in. I don’t, of course, but that doesn’t mean I comment on those who prefer skirts.
“I’ve seen a lot of people wear skirts.”
‘Oh. Is that so? I didn’t know…’ She trails off, looking around for someone else with an interesting attire.
Lunch, for me, was a constant affair of awkward shifting and stuffing my food as fast as I could. The longer I lingered at a table, the more chances I had of meeting someone I’d just ended a meeting with. And lunch hall meetings were different from conference hall meetings; they were smaller talk, more jovial. We’d just talk about women’s skirts and men’s shirts.
And as one topic ends, another blooms uninvited.
‘So listen to this. Last weekend, I was cleaning my cupboard and guess what I found? Oh, don’t just shrug. Take a guess.’
Well, judging from your pungent shirt, I’d say you found a bag of unused mothballs.
“No idea. Tell me,” I’m dying to know, in fact.
She smiles, showcasing her whitened teeth. I should’ve known what was to come.
‘Money! With a note, from the tooth fairy. You know, I love Vic. He does the cutest things. He knows I’ve wanted to get my teeth whitened for a long time. And he knows I’d never make it a priority — what with all the new house we’re buying and all that.’ She waves her hand in an offhand way, like it doesn’t matter.
Ok. So for the last half hour, you’ve built up a conversation just to tell me you’ve whitened your teeth, and you’re buying a house. Brilliant. It’s just my idea of a noon-time interaction.
“Ah. That’s nice.” I smile in return, flashing my average-white teeth. I don’t believe in tooth fairies. “I’m full. Aren’t you?”