I’m Great at Pretending to Listen to You

I went to a party last night. A simple little cocktail party for a bunch of my wife’s friends. Seems fun, right? No. My wife’s friends are boring. All they do is talk about their kids and families and what the next season of Modern Family is going to be about and what’s in this dip that they just can’t stop eating and wow, you’ve lost weight what spin class have you been going to is it Greg’s class because he’s the best yadda yadda yadda and the whole time I’m just standing there with a drink in my hand that’s not nearly strong enough imagining what it would feel like to bury a screwdriver in my own forehead.

So many people to be bored by, so little time.

But you wouldn’t know that’s what’s going through my head when you look at me. No sir. Because even though on the inside I’m tearing the skin off my own face, on the outside I’m cool as a cucumber. I make eye contact, I nod, I cock my head slightly to the left while saying “Hmm” to indicate to you that I find what you just said to be extremely interesting. But I don’t find what you’re saying to be extremely interesting. I am actually going over my head a new flanking strategy for my next online multiplayer bout of Modern Warfare 3.

How do I do it? I’m great at pretending to listen. I’ve been married for a while now, and although by she’s caught on to my tricks and strategies at this point, I’ve had plenty of practice to use those skills on other people who don’t live with me and won’t box my ears when they figure out that I’m not actually paying attention.

Oh, here it is, the most boring cocktail party in the universe.

For example, next time you’re thinking about whether or not to start Mark Sanchez on your Fantasy Football roster this week while some weird-looking finance guy with the most boring job in the world jabbers on and on about the benefits of fixed indexed annuities and how good my wife’s three-cheese dip is and the sad state of things in the middle east, here are some tips on how to get through it. Just look into his eyes, nod occasionally, squint your eyes now and then to show him how interesting his comments are, and say noncommittal, broad things that won’t tip him off, like, “Really?”, “Interesting,” or “I think I read about that in the New York Times.” Shift your weight back and forth to keep your legs from falling asleep, widen your eyes in shock to keep your eyes from getting droopy, and if you’re brave, you can even scratch your head with a slight confused look, giving them the satisfaction of thinking they are more intellectual than you, and giving you the satisfaction of getting them to wrap it up sooner to search for someone who is more on their intellectual level. Win win.

Pretending to listen is a subtle art. Don’t clasp the other person’s face. That’s trying to hard.

If at any point the boredom is just getting too much and the man in the suit that’s four sizes too big for him won’t shut his fat face-hole, just interrupt him gently by saying something like, “Wow, what you just said made my day, can I get you another drink to celebrate your intellect?” or “Wow, let me go get my wife, she has got to hear this,” or simply “You just blew my mind, and I need to sit down so I can think about the purpose of life and the universe,” then proceed to sit down directly in front of your own TV where a TiVo’ed episode of “The Walking Dead” is waiting for you. Killing Zombies with crossbows > talking about tax deferred retirement savings.

So there you go, just a few of my many tips on how to survive a horribly boring conversation. Maybe in my next post I’ll talk about how to look like you’re busy at work without actually doing any work, how to look like you mean it when you tell your wife that you’re “Sorry,” and how to get a doctor to diagnose you as a sleepwalker so you can get away with late night snacking and TV watching.