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MiltonMy wife frequently tells me (often when I’m being more reclusive than usual), “You could be alone for a whole month and it wouldn’t bother you.”

That’s not true. But it’s not far from the truth, either.

I love being alone. I love focusing on a writing project without any distractions. I hate it when I’m jarred from a deep thought by a passing comment or flippant question. (And no, I’m not directing that comment at my wife.) When I worked in an office, there were days when I didn’t want to be bugged. It’s true.

If I was especially focused on something, I wanted to be left alone.

Well, now that I work from home by myself all alone without anyone to talk to…I guess that’s not a problem.

But do you know what I miss? Small talk.

Of all things, I miss small talk. Sure, I enjoy deep conversations, and I miss those too, but more than anything, I miss small talk.

Sports have always been a topic of small talk for me. Whether it was my dad, friends from school, college roommates, or co-workers, I’ve always had people in my life who were interested in discussing sports. Maybe it’s a case of not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone, because I never considered that this might be something of value to me.

Until this week.

This week I’ve watched:

  • Amazing tennis match-ups at the U.S. Open.
  • Jordan tributes leading up to his induction in the Hall of Fame tonight.
  • All the hype leading up to the OSU/USC football game tomorrow night.
  • The annoying fallout from Terrelle Pryor’s bumbled comments.
  • Big Ben moving around in a well-protected pocket, pump-faking his Steelers to an overtime victory (not to mention Polamalu’s amazing left-handed snag for a first-half interception).
  • If I still worked in an office, I’d casually say to someone, “Hey did you see that Steelers win last night?” or “Have you seen any of the U.S. Open matches?”

    Even if we only talked about it for thirty seconds, that would suffice. Without those interactions, I’m resigned to tweeting, and more tweeting, and writing blogs like this. And it’s kind of sad. (wah-wah.)

    For other people, sports might not be the default topic, but I’m wondering if this desire for small talk is universal.

    For you, maybe it’s the news that Ellen is taking Paula’s spot on American Idol. Or maybe the congressman who yelled “You lie!” in the middle of Obama’s address the other night.

    And maybe that’s why people ask about the weather (a topic that is completely universal and completely apolitical)—just, you know, to make small talk. After all, is anyone genuinely interested in discussing the weather?

    Maybe small talk is valuable to most people. Or even everyone. Whether or not it’s true for you, apparently it’s true for me.

    And there’s some irony in this revelation.

    You see, I’ve often told my wife that I hate small talk. I hate being asked, “How was your day?” just as a matter of routine. I hate giving obligatory and expected answers. It’s boring. And annoying. If something interesting happened, something worth sharing, I want them to assume I’ll share it. If they trust that I’ll share something interesting, they don’t need to ask.

    And don’t ask just for the sake of conversation. Anything done “for the sake of conversation” leads to boring, pointless conversation. And I prefer silence to meaningless conversation. Always.

    And so maybe I’m realizing that small talk isn’t completely meaningless. And maybe that’s why my wife likes asking, “How was your day?” Maybe that is her equivalent of my desire to talk sports with friends and co-workers. Maybe…

    So maybe I owe my wife an apology…