This Girl Sure Knows What to Talk About at Parties
Here is a rough transcription of a conversation (complete with my accompanying thoughts, in brackets) that took place at Holly-and-Matt's last Friday night.
This Kid Tim: Hi, Jenn? I'm Tim. Nice to meet you. What do you do?
Me: I work at Starbucks, actually.
TKT: Oh, really? I heard that's a great company to work for. So, are you a student, too, or something?
Me: [No one can believe that a) I am in my mid-thirties--which is probably why this 23-year-old is talking to me, or b) that I would actually make Starbucks my life's work, as it were.]
We make a little more small-talk about how great a company he's heard Starbucks is and how I'm not a student, and somehow, though I can't quite remember how, it comes out that I once lived in London, and then came back, ostensibly to get a Master's degree in counseling, which I started, and then quit.
Me: [This is going to be tricky to explain without bringing in all the "I think God . . ." reasons, which are hard enough to explain to people who think more or less the way I do.] I just felt like it wasn't for me. I mean, the people I actually wanted to help are people who wouldn't be able to afford counseling anyway. And besides, I realised that what I like most, and am better at, is just being friends with people--you know, hanging out and talking with them over coffee and stuff. So I got a job where I can hang out and talk to people over coffee all day.
TKT (for whom this concept is clearly computing even less well than it does for most people): So . . . what do you talk about, then?
Me: Um . . .
There is a long pause while I try to figure out how overt I can or want to be about this. Then I bite the bullet.
Me: Okay, so actually, when I lived in London, I was a missionary, and I realised that I really just like talking to people about God and faith and stuff, and so . . . that's the kind of stuff I talk to them about here, too.
TKT (after a split second of a pick-and-mix of facial expressions): So, you just hand them their coffee and say, "Hey, do you want to talk about religion?"
Me (laughing): No! I talk about that stuff more to the people I work with, really, when they bring it up.
TKT: They just bring it up?
TKT: You just have random conversations about religion.
TKT: How does that happen?
Me: [Kind of like this, actually.]
He then proceeded to ask me about faith "versus" science, and Christianity "versus" other religions, and Jesus, and whether you can know if you're "right" or not. This all took place before dinner. Well, before our dinner. Everybody else was milling and eating and trying to ignore and not interrupt our clearly not-polite-conversation in the corner by the time This Kid Tim took a breath and turned around to notice. He took this moment of observation to extract himself from the conversation I had been trying to avoid and which he himself had embroiled himself in.
The weirdest thing about this is that I have this kind of conversation a lot. I almost never look for them. I just sort of collide with them by accident. But do I ever love it.