So, what are you going to do next year when you are out of school?
” Eat noodles”.
So,when are you going to have another child?
” None of your goddamned business”.
So, why did you retire?
” You. People like you. All day every day, People like you”.
Three intrusive questions and three snappy answers. If you are taken aback at the candour of the replies, pause for a moment and consider what you would think if someone intruded themselves into your intimate hopes, fears, and agonised decisions – all for the sake of a moment’s repartee…
Considering quitting your job? Like to have someone at a party grill you over the worries and calculations involved? Like to have them pooh-pooh your choice? Or worse – give you their personal seal of approval…as if it was another level of social control you needed to negotiate…
Baby? What if you can’t have one. Or got partway through the process and in it all went sad…what if the child you have is the only one you want or need or can have? Another? Not achieving enough? Not doing what the questioner required of you? ” Goddamned business” becomes mild language in these circumstances and I, for one, would endorse stronger words.
The career choices of your life? Your entire life to come? Encapsulated into a pat answer between bites of a sausage roll? I should be inclined to tell the enquirer that I was looking forward to a career robbing trains with a pistol. I think I could do this with a straight enough face to pull it off. You also need a deadpan delivery and timing. If you can supply some small details like the schedule of the local railway and a projected return on the investment in the train ticket and the pistol ( remember that you need to look at these things – otherwise you are just fooling around fiscally ) it lends an air of authenticity to it all.
It is well to have a store of questions to ask in return on these occasions – enquiries about the sexual habits and desires of the other person are always a good starting point. People are surprisingly sensitive about South of The Border questions. Politics and religion also make for good party talk. Currently there are a number of international incidents that can be brought into the spotlight and you can get people incandescent with rage with just a sentence or two. Domestic politics are also fine, but you need to remember that Australian politics are generally of the middle rather than the left or right. Fifty shades of grey.
I have always found it valuable to burst into tears – when I was a younger man it was somewhat disconcerting to the other person as they did not know where to look. Now that I have gotten older it is even more useful as everyone naturally assumes that the other person has abused a pensioner. If you can stagger a bit it re-enforces the look.
Likewise, very few people are prepared for a tirade of foul-mouthed obscene abuse from someone in a suit and tie at a cocktail party, particularly if it is delivered in a low, pleasant voice with a smile and a reasonable expression on the face. It is like finding spiders in the cornflakes.
Now, you were asking…?