Conversation

(Through Rose-Coloured Glasses)

I don’t like banquets, charity balls or any fund raising functions. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Uncle Scrooge. I am happy just to donate and simply get my tax receipt. But sitting around a table, with a group of strangers, trying to start up a conversation politely, just to kill time; before the first dish arrives, that’s a chore.

“How are you today?”

“I am Mike. Nice to meet you.”

“Today’s weather ………..”

“Going on holiday?”

These lasted at most 15 minutes, and then silence.

We wreck our brain trying to restart the conversation.

But weekend gathering with friends, that is a different kettle of fish. We don’t have to try hard to find a topic for conversation, it just flows easily. We are birds of the same feather after all.

During our university days, when together, we talked about courses to take, professors and assignments, boyfriends and girlfriends, or simply seeping a beer, watched a hockey game together.

In our final year, we talked about job prospect, job interviews or graduate school, and might be, a wedding date.

After graduation, that year, we were overwhelmed with weddings. During receptions, we talked about our new jobs, family planning and who was going to be the next victim.

The next year, all the wives came to the gatherings with big tummies. We stared at each other and laughed. Natrually the conversation fell on the due date, maternity experience and preparation. Childbirth classes, breathing technique, natural birth, mid-wife or obstetrician, on and on we kept talking.

Next year’s gatherings were noisy indeed, with so many babies crying like an orchestra. Obviously converstation was centered on how to raise a healthy child, what to feed a baby, their growth and milestones. “Johnny starts crawling already.” “Mary already knows how to say dada.” We compared notes. We were all proud parents. And these lasted for the next 5 years.

As the kids grew, our conversation was switched to the merit of private vs public schools, French Immersion or Montessori; and then later, concentrated on which piano teacher was best, was private tutoring necessary, and which saturday Chinese school. Eventually, which university, what faculties and courses to take. Decision, decision, work of the parents would never end.

Recent gatherings, we were talking about, which eye doctor is best for cataract or surgeon for colonoscopy, what to do for arthritis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, what to eat and what not. “Are you retiring yet?” “going on a cruise, or China tour?” “Symptoms of PMS?”

Pretty soon, we will be talking about our good old days, our dwindling retirement funds, the nursing home and the funeral pre-plan.

Amen.

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