I like to talk. Ask anyone. Shutting me up is the problem. However, I have never been a fan of small talk. Ask me about the universe, ghosts, Old Hollywood and GET READY TO … RAMBLE!
Sit me down in a barber chair, and I’m blank.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to get my haircut from the Chinese place on Gower. Two reasons: It was cheap, and they didn’t speak much English. Aside from “Haircut five dollar!” I didn’t have to chat with them. The hardest part was explaining how I wanted my hair.
“A number three on the sides and back and blended down.”
It’s so easy to talk with your friends. You know the rules. Whenever you engage in polite social talk with strangers, you have to learn where the boundaries are. Something innocuous like “How about this weather?” can turn into a discussion on climate change. It gets ugly.
Some people also don’t know the rules. When I say, “How are you?” you say, “I’m fine.”
Sometimes you hear, “Well, I have a tennis elbow thing going on. My wife has switched medications and, OH BOY, is it making her moody!” TMI.
The worst place is when I’m getting my hair cut, because I’m a captive audience. Suddenly, I’m listening to someone tell me about their weekend. Then, he will ask me about mine. I never want to contribute too much, because I don’t want to bore him as badly as he is boring me. I’m polite that way.
The No. 1 way to bore someone is to brag pretentiously about your life. When a stylist or barber asks about my weekend, I clam up. My life can sound a little boastful.
He or she will ask, “Doing anything fun this weekend?” I will say, “Not much.”
But when pressed for details, I will tell the truth: “I’m going to the opening of a new play, shooting a video review for ’Burgh Vivant, writing my newspaper column, attending a gala, doing some standup and going to my improv class. You?”
That sounds like a lot from a person they never heard of. My life on the Z List. I’m not Kathy Griffin famous. Heck, I’m not even Sally Wiggin famous.
But I digress, like I do. Here’s the thing. If I’m in the barber’s chair and I know you, I’m going to be invested when you tell me you took your dog to the groomers. If I don’t know you, I might reach for those shears and off myself, or poison myself with that huge jar of tinted blue water the combs are always floating in. What is that stuff?!
Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here!