Throughout October, Zeb asked Kilter Street Manor residents to write their worst fear and leave it in a basket in the mailroom. Everyone chose to do it anonymously, and most people typed up their notes. Now Zeb has tacked the notes up on the mailroom bulletin board, crowding out the takeout menus and the polaroid photos of bare tree branches Mrs. Selby has taken to sharing.
I recently had a conversation with Hugh Silver about why people might be terrible at conversation. The following list isn’t comprehensive, and I don’t know how many apply to you. (I won’t say how many apply to me or to Hugh.) Be forewarned, we brainstormed this in the manor’s conservatory at two in the morning, when we were both exhausted and a bit creeped out by the shadows of the plants in the moonlight. Here goes…
If conversation is an art, some people can fill a canvas with delicate chiaroscuro and angels clothed in lapis lazuli. Others can fill a piece of construction paper with elbow macaroni, glitter and nosebleed drippings.
Even if conversation isn’t an art, or you think that bloody macaroni-covered construction paper can be art (Capillary Red # 4 at the Merriwether A. Rackett Modern Art Museum), maybe this list will give you some insights and directions to consider if you want to improve your conversational skills. Or maybe you don’t want to improve anything, and you will grunt if you need to get your point across to anyone.
“All the world’s a stage,” is the opening line from a funny As You Like It monologue on the several roles a man typically plays throughout his life. As he goes from one role to another, little seems to depend on his own thoughts; he slips into each role because of his age and what’s expected of him at any given point in life.
What roles are we playing, and have we accepted them without question?
Let’s take this theatrical metaphor of life and use it for relationships that have an abusive dynamic. Whose stage are we on, what role are we playing, and is it hazardous to our sanity and health? Although they’re painful and degrading, we can slip into these roles relatively easily, and stay in them for years – maybe most of our lives.