Situation #12 – The T.M.I.

12 06 2008

Situation : You are strolling down the street, trying to remember what exactly did happen in Season 10 of Beverly Hills 90210, when you spot a casual friend. You greet your friend with the usual “how are you?” Your friend, remember this is a casual friend, actually tells you how they are, and its not pretty. So how do you avoid the TMI (too much information) deluge and becoming the confidant by the convenience store?

Solution:

In your head you may think this is a great opportunity to recite the lyrics to a well-known country song (Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares), however, this is not a good option. This will, as they say, bite you in the ass. This situation is best handled in two steps.

First, you must listen attentively for approximately 45 seconds. This timing issue is crucial because if you listen attentively for too long, you will only encourage more self-revealing information. For example, if your casual friend initially responded to your “how are you” with a “shitters, I just got dumped, I am so lonely, life is miserable”, listening for too long may bring out more information : “…AND he/she gave me genital warts!” This is not something one needs to hear on a street corner. We also advise to season this attentive listening period with some “mmm” in agreement and looks of shock (how could he/she!).

The second step is to do the ol’ hand on the forearm, perhaps do a little sympathetic head tlit and a 1.5 second eye close and then say “It sounds like you have been through a lot and it seems like a good time for you to focus on yourself. I should leave you to do that”. You must then briskly walk away.

Alternately you could give the ambiguous “I really would love to listen, but I have an emergency to attend to”. It is best to follow this with an awkward sound “ack”, grimace, a “sorry” and then BOLT.

Alert! A potential second awkward situation is when you spot said casual friend ata time when they are not as depressed as Ray Ramano sounds. In this situation, avoid ALL talk about the T.M.I. incident.  In fact, avoid any discussion on topics related, even remotely, to why they were depressed because they may be reminded of their sadness.  Then they will find you. And disclose more information. This is a circle of awkwardness even we cannot get out of.

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