españa, friday day 3: ronda @ night + pork overload and small talk masterclass @ bar faustino + drinks 'n' darts @ dulcinea.

So we found this book at Casa Mimosa called The Fine Art Of Small Talk. Really depressing, even for someone like myself who is nearly incapable of small talk and should need all the pointers he can get his hands on.

Checking out the Amazon blurb makes this book sound like essential reading for me: "Do you spend an abnormal amount of time hiding out in the bathroom or hanging out at the buffet table at social gatherings?" Replace "bathroom" with "kitchen" and "buffet table" with "beer/wine station" and then well my answer is yes, yes I do.

But the solutions offered within were a bit, eh, I don't know, superficial? Which is maybe what small talk is and why I can't do it. But there were helpful hints like "Really try to be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying," or, if you are trying to gently change the subject, try something assholey and narcissistic like "That reminds me of something that happened to me the other day", etc etc etc.

One of the sections in the book had to do with "How to Talk to an Acquaintance You Haven't Seen in a While": in other words, someone you're not exactly friends with, but you've seen them and conversed with them enough times to know a little bit about their life...but, you know...you haven't seen them in a while.

The Captain and I read through this section with great mirth. There were lots of Don'ts. "Don't ask them how their romantic partner is doing," because there's a chance that things haven't worked out and this will lead to an uncomfortable moment. Don't ask them about how their specific job/business is doing, because well in this economic climate there's a good chance they've been fired or are bankrupt. Don't ask about their parents because they're probably dead. Etc.

So we read this, and laughed, because yes, The Captain is also shitty at small talk, but come on: we're adults, do we really need a 200-page book on how to talk to people?


The next night we were discussing where to go to dinner. I'd found this place that the Captain coincidentally used to go to quite a bit back in the day but she hadn't been there in quite a while, like at least five years or something (this is called foreshadowing), she was interested in seeing how it looked these days, it had been renovated recently, etc.

We go in, sit down, the owner comes over in the direction of our table and slows down a bit with a puzzled smile on her face, and says to the Captain, "Don't I know you?" The Captain of course says "Yes, I used to come here all the time," etc. At which point the dialogue example straight out of The Fine Art Of Small Talk begins happening. But it's the "Don't" example:

Captain: "Wow, great to see you. Hey, how's your husband?"
Owner: "Well, he left me four years ago."
Captain: "Oh man, that sucks. Well it looks like the place is still running great, business is going good, right?"
Owner: "Well actually, no, business isn't very good, the renovations cost a ton of money..."
Captain: "Ehhhhm.....is your mom still working in the kitchen?"
Owner: "Yes, but she can't see very well and is constantly burning herself or cutting off her fingers and toes, etc etc etc"

OK I made up the last answer but the rest is all totally true. And although the actual conversation happened in very fast Spanish, I knew exactly what was being said because I'd read this exact conversation in the "Don't" section of the small talk book the night before. It was AWESOME.

OK, there's more about that, but....the food, you ask. Above: jamón and queso manchego. Below: another serranito, this one was a little too big and dry, a problem rectified via allioli and olive oil. That plate in the background is something mysterious that was one of the best things I ate that night, called maybe a purpeta? Kind of a pork meatball in gravy on fries.

Anyway, this post will be finished sometime soon. Below: tortilla de patatas, more eggplant with cane syrup (just offscreen), and a flamenquín, which I'll explain eventually along with the rest of everything else.

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