Tuesday, 22 March 2011

I Must Remember This

I just ran into someone I've known slightly for years. After we'd discussed his wife's sister's health problems and his plans to change jobs and the difficulties he struck while having renovations done to his house recently, he made the fatal mistake of asking me how my children were. It's a question that I always forget is actually supposed to be answered in the same way that the inquiry, 'How are you?', should be answered - 'Fine', you're meant to say, and then you should leave it at that.

Instead, because my children are among the most absolutely incredibly fascinating things in the world, as far as I'm concerned, I did what I do all too often (but have resolved never ever to do again) - I went into considerable detail. And, as I did so, I noticed a change in the expression in my acquaintance's eyes. At first I'd read there a level of mild friendliness, but, as I burbled on, all warmth vanished, to be replaced by a stony, barely concealed loathing.

I wound up as quickly as possible, reluctantly leaving large fields of information related to my favourite subject uncanvassed. I assumed that would be the end of our conversation, but, to my surprise, my acquaintance immediately began talking, despite no encouragement from me. 'Yes, Nikki' (his only child), 'is really enjoying Brisbane - the university up there is so much better', he told me, in answer to no inquiry whatsoever. And then on and on he went.

I listened with half an ear, and reminded myself of the true definition of a bore. I used to think the word applied to someone who wants to talk about themselves when you want to talk about yourself, but, of course, that's silly. Someone who wants to talk about their children when you want to talk about your own is actually, as his expression had warned me, the truest, most dreadful form of bore.


  1. haha..... I love these little observations of yours

  2. Would you like to hear about my children?

  3. If talking about your children makes you boring then I know a couple who could bore for their country at the boring olympics and walk off with gold medals in boring. Their oldest? She's in this city in this state doing this. Before that, she was in that city in that state doing that. She did it very well, in fact brilliantly, in fact her superior commended her, in fact they put her in charge and she was so wonderful that they sent her for extra training and everybody at the training sessions will tell you how wonderful she is. She has a house in that state, and a car, and a husband, who is doing wonderful things too; you've met him, he's a wonderful young man, and they're a wonderful couple. Their youngest got a tattoo and their father liked it so much that he had one done too, then another one, and then the mother, and now the whole family has tattoos, isn't that interesting? And you'd like to see them. Here, on the shoulder. Look. The youngest's tattoo looks like such and such and the older child's looks like so and so, just a little one on the ankle. The youngest is doing so well, too. Have we told you about his girlfriend, in fact his fiance, in fact they're getting married next weekend?

    On and on and on.

  4. The living, talking, breathing equivalent of those horrible Christmas round robin letters, Umbagollah. Unfortunately, you can't throw the embodied variety into the rubbish bin at once.

  5. Funny how the kids don't want to go on and on about the parents, eh? I remember when I was an older kid, many of us would have pretended we were in care if we thought we could have got away with it. "Ah, here's the social worker coming to pick me up - see ya later!".

  6. That is such a hilarious idea - teenagers standing around at parties boring each other with their parents' achievements. You have brought a broad grin to my face, Gaw.