Great news, food porn lovers!

Canon PowerShot SX110 ISMy lovely new digital camera arrived today, replacing my terrible, horrible, no-good, for-grandmas-only old one. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) What this means for you is more and better photos of the Christmas baking frenzy on which I will embark tomorrow. Rejoice!

Also, a quick hit. I saw the second half of Elf* on TV the other night. Although I’d seen the movie before, this time I was really struck by Buddy’s (second) interaction with his father’s secretary, Deborah. (Seen here. Fast forward to about 5:20.) Remember, Buddy acts like a 4-year-old, so most people treat him like one.

Buddy: (childlike) Hi!
Deb: (as if to a child) Hi!
Buddy: Do you remember me?
Deb: I do! I didn’t recognize you!
Buddy: I know! I’m in work clothes! (As opposed to his elf costume.)
Deb: brings Buddy and his father coffee
Buddy: (obsequiously) Thank you, Deborah!
Buddy’s father: (grunts) Thanks, Deb.
Buddy: Deb, you have such a pretty face, you should be on a Christmas card.
Deb: Well, you just made my day!

Notice what’s wrong with this exchange? Nothing! Buddy, misfit man-child who thinks he’s an elf, is perfectly adept at small-talking with women. Like most people, I find small talk obnoxious, but I guess I never realized how thoroughly infantilizing it is.

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*For those who don’t know it, Will Ferrell is Buddy, a human adopted by elves and raised at the North Pole, who goes to New York in search of his biological father. His childlike delight and holiday spirit win everyone over and save the day. Normally this would cause me to projectile vomit, but because I love the holidays I allow myself to be charmed.

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3 Responses

  1. I’ve never gotten the hatred of small talk. Obviously, the point is to move beyond it. But how do you want conversations to proceed, BB?

    “Hi, I’m Robin.”
    “I’m Jess. I think Kafka is overrated.”

  2. Actually, that’s kind of awesome.

    I think getting-to-know-you talk (Where are you from? What do you do?) is different from small talk (Lovely weather we’re having. Aren’t you a pretty thing?). The former is seeking a genuine response, and it’s easy to move on from there into real conversation. The latter expects a formulaic response and goes nowhere. What’s the point?

    I’m not opposed to discussing unimportant things with strangers as long as you actually have something to say.

    “Hello, [retail worker]. I must say that your Frosty-tapdancing-with-the-reindeer sweater is making this last-minute shopping experience more bearable. Where did you ever find such an unusual item?”
    “Thanks! My grandmother knitted it for me. She came up with the pattern herself.”

  3. I see your point, but to insist that people either have something meaningful to say or shut up seems kind of cruel. A lot of conversation is meaningless. It’s the equivalent of grooming in other primates. It soothes us and reinforces a connection and sense of goodwill. That, to me, is the point. I’d rather not engage in it myself, but I’m 1) introverted to begin with and 2) good at coming up with stuff to say when I do want to talk. But non-conversationally-gifted extroverts need a way to connect, too.

    Which you probably won’t disagree with … I realize you’re stating your own preferences, not making some universal decree that Must Be Obeyed!

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