Past Articles
This form does not yet contain any fields.


    My friend, Paula, and her husband, a prominent physician and renowned Professor of Medicine, were invited to a neighbor’s home to see their new Dachshund puppies. One of the puppies was not thriving,  and their neighbor said, “She isn’t eating, and I am afraid we are going to lose her.” Whereupon, the Professor of Internal Medicine said, “Maybe, she’s allergic to her mother’s milk.”  Sure enough, his diagnosis was correct! Word about the miracle cure must have spread, because a stranger approached Paula and said, “You must be so proud to be married to a veterinarian.”

    There have been studies comparing “small talk” to “meaningful conversations,” and in the past, psychologists thought that substantive conversations led to happier people, while small talk was linked to unhappiness. Tell that to the puppy, and we both say, (She barks) “Balderdash!”

    Recently, researchers have found that, “small talk is not negatively related to well being.” See, I told you so! I happen to like small talk. Any comedian will tell you that one-liners are the ultimate small talk.

    While getting my car serviced, I was sitting in the waiting room, and felt a drop of water on my head. I looked up and caught another drop from the ceiling air-conditioner. I reported the leak to a service person, and said,”Do you charge extra for the shower?” He replied, “No, but the towel will cost you.” That is a small talk come-back.

    After a young woman on the Comcast help line straightened out my television reception problem, she said, “Is there anything else, I can help you with?” I replied, “No, but now you don’t have to be nice for the rest of the day.” That line works every time!

    A friend of mine has a brother who drives a taxi cab in New York City. I think his major in college was mid-Tibetan history, and he is waiting for an opening in his field. Anyway, my friend is a writer, and his brother, the taxi cab driver, picked up a fare at a publishing house in the City. As the man got into his cab, he asked him,”Are you an editor?” “Yes,” said the man. The driver then said, “Here’s my brother’s manuscript. You are going to love it!” And, he gave it to the man as he exited the cab.

    A week later, the editor had lunch with an editor from another publishing house and said, “We don’t publish funny novels, but I think it would fit your list.” My friend, the writer, got a call that his book was going to be published, and it was later made into the movie, “Doc Hollywood.”
    Who needs a dissertation when small talk can accomplish that?”

    My first book, OH, LORD, I SOUND JUST LIKE MAMA also got published because of the smallest talk ever. The book had been rejected by Peachtree Publishers, because they already had their featured humor writer, Lewis Grizzard. Several months later, my co-author Lynne and I were guest lecturers at a writer’s conference at Jekyll Island, GA. In the lunchroom, I spied, the editor, Chuck Perry from Peachtree Publishers, and I said to Lynne, “I’m going to go say, “Hello” to the guy who rejected us. I approached him and said, “Hi, Chuck,” and he said, “Lewis Grizzard just signed with Random House, Do you still have, OH, LORD, I SOUND JUST LIKE MAMA?” “Yes, I do,” said, I.” “ Send it to me. We can publish it now,”was his reply.

    So, “Hello,Chuck” and “Yes, I do” sold 250,000 books.  That is small talk at its smallest—- and its very best!

    Small talk can also be an excellent coping mechanism. Years ago, my friend, Jeanne and I went to a restaurant that featured singers. The man singing into the microphone wore an open shirt, and his gold chains kept getting entangled in his chest hair. I ignored the singer as best I could, but suddenly he came to our table, leaned close to me and said, “Baby, Do you have a request?” I responded, “Yes, I do!”  “Go Away!” That is the essence of small talk.

    Small talk can also be dangerous: My parents hosted a fancy dinner party. Mother found a lonely sardine in the refrigerator, and popped it into the centerpiece on the table. Yes, that was either weird or avant garde. Never did figure that out, but back to the story.  My grandmother, suddenly reached into the centerpiece, and before anyone could stop her, she popped the sardine into her mouth—whereupon, she promptly spit it out and yelled—“Stop eating! The dinner is poisoned.”

    Small talk. I love it!

    Esther Blumenfeld

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>