Saturday, October 20, 2012

Interrupting Cow

Background by Shiftless Baby I, who thinks we live in the Alps.
What is the appropriate way to interrupt someone if he is telling you something 1.) you already know, 2.) you aren't really interested in knowing?

1.) Really? You can't take 30 seconds out of your life to hear a story again? Haven't you watched the "King-Sized Homer" Simpsons episode 43 times? The drinking bird stops working. Every.single.time.

Unlike the bird, maybe this time your friend's delivery will be punchier or he will reveal some dark secret by mistake. Or maybe you should listen because one day your extensive database of what story you have told to which friend could fail to compile and you will find yourself on the receiving end of the knowing smile.

2.) I'll need you to clarify what, precisely, you don't want to know. Are we talking about the details of a medical procedure? Sexual peculiarities of his hideous ex? What he pulled out of his shower drain? First, those are all interesting topics, but if you insist on ruining our fun, the appropriate way to interrupt  a disgusting disclosure is to hunch over and say, "Stop, I'm gonna throw up." Then gag a little for effect. Don't go overboard, though, or you will become your own gross story.

Alternatively, if you just aren't interested in what your friend has to say because it is boring or you think what you have to say is more important, see answer 1. I assure you that there are days you aren't channeling Steinbeck reading The Economist.

Unfortunately, there is one more, unstoppable, genre of conversation: The Devastating. This epidemic must be stopped. I give you full permission to hold up a finger (the pointer) and say, "I'm gonna have to stop you right there. I don't want to hear if the dog dies, but if you stop, I'll know that the dog dies, so instead, I need you to talk about something else right now. The topic is: shoes that you thought would fit, but then once you got them home they didn't fit. And...go."

The following is a non-exhaustive list of The Devastating, grouped into a pseudo-Linnaean classification:

  • Animals
    • Anything on Animal Planet, NatGeo or any show on any channel having to do with the those really big whales and Orcas, the assholes of the sea. (Free Willy isn't fooling me.)
    • Anything that starts with "I had this dog once..."
    • Almost anything a cat does when it is alone. 
  • People
    • Anything your mom calls you about that starts with "Remember so-and-so..."
    • Stories that start with a back injury, hazardous jobs or pre-OSHA manufacturing
    • Most stories about teenagers doing anything but studying
    • Stories about childhood not accompanied by premature and nostalgic laughing
    • Crime other than minor white-collar and petty theft. (If you are a Marylander, I will accept Rogue and Vagabond, because I like to say it.)
  • Food
    • How food is made in America
    • How many calories are in anything. (Also WW points)
    • The nutritional content of a Salted Caramel Mocha latte at Starbucks
  • Land
    • Anything that ever happened in Appalachia or the Deep South in the last millennium  (This millenium is probationary Devastating)
    • The 3 F's: Floods, Fires, Foreclosures
These are topics to discuss with a mental health professional only. Anyone that attempts to speak of such things invites interruption with abandon. 

I will accept additional submission into the list of The Devastating in the comment section. 


  1. Speaking of things pulled out of the shower drain.... Recently, it was a lemon starburst wrapper....truly.
    Now, I would like to ask...
    What is the appropriate way to interrupt someone literally half my size who is talking about how fat they are or how something didn't fit right, etc. ?
    Does it involve physical violence? Because, if so, I'm totally okay with that.

    1. It depends. Are they seriously worried and have a warped body image? In that case, there's nothing you can do. If, on the other hand, they are masking bragging with worrying ("brorrying"), you have my permission to say something completely withering, or even better, agree with them.

  2. will this work on professors too?

  3. Any solicitation for advice between two alternatives taht are both better than anything going on in the receiver's life, ala, "I don't know, we are really struggling between going to Tahiti or Bermuda. There are pros and cons. I have this list. Maybe you can go through it with me in some detail..." Interrupt away on this one.

    Another fantastic post. You have one of my favorite blogs out there!!


I love comments. They make me feel like I'm not talking to myself. I try to reply to all of them, eventually.