I find it very interesting how the big events in your life can be fodder for communication with strangers. Take yesterday, for example. Fiancee S. and I went to the hotel where our wedding reception will be held, and tasted the food that will be served at our reception (it was delicious for the most part -- the "rubber chicken" was most definitely not rubber and definitely chicken.) During the course of doing that, we got into a 15 to 20 minute discussion with the catering representative about her wedding (which was held down in the town where I attended graduate school) and the choices she made. Later when we went to the shiny, new flagship gourmet cooking and housewares store around the corner and mentioned that we were getting married, we had a 10-15 minute discussion with a clerk behind the counter about wedding registries that segued into his desire to live somewhere with dramatic fall foliage.
I can recall when this wasn't always so. The transition was most dramatic in the year or so preceding the completion of my Ph.D with the year or two after I received my degree. When I was still toiling away in the dark, foul pits of the Dissertation Abyss (complete with "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here" for the Miltonian touch), I would say to people "oh, I'm working on my Ph.D dissertation." They would usually follow up with something like "that must be hard. what is it about?" I would try my best to put the obscure, esoteric topic of my dissertation into layman's terms, and a noticable pregnant pause would follow. Once completed, I can recall finding myself at a Christmas cocktail party full of lawyers, doctors, economists and the like in a well-to-do section of a nearby city, and saying "oh, I just finished my Ph.D and I work for Company O." That elicited an immediate and palpable sense of acceptance from all the other degreed professionals in the room (which was GREAT, let me tell you, after toiling for so long) along with queries about what I did for Company O. and how I thought the computer business was going.
I'm the sort of person who is not the best at idle conversation. I usually enjoy seeing and meeting new people very much, but, I'm not the best at meaningless introductory chit-chat. That usually is what holds me back from being a more outgoing person. So, I appreciate that the major milestones of life can be a major conversational crutch. The process of getting married can be a bore at some times,and irritating at others, but, it also does provide a common link for talking and getting to know other people. For that reason alone, it's been nice.
on 2003-10-30 at 5:06 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond