The truth is in the silence

I was drinking cut-rate Mexican beer at the outdoor bar of a Flamenco dinner theater in Hollywood when a friend introduced me to a striking blonde. The three of us spoke for several minutes. Our mutual friend then wisely excused himself.

We had a good conversation. There was a lot of agreeing, which was a positive sign, because I am usually right. I mentally checked through my list of turn-ons and turn-offs. She wasn’t a smoker – good. She wasn’t impossibly shy – good. She looked good in jeans – good. I saw a level of compatibility. I’m not saying I heard wedding bells, but I did think, “Here is someone I enjoy talking to.”

Then it happened.

It always happens in conversations.

But this time it really happened. In fact, it’s still happening in my head weeks later, which is why I feel compelled to write about it.

A break in the conversation occurred – a moment of silence. There was a natural pause that gave both of us a chance to appraise the future of our short relationship.

When such a break occurs, I have learned that one of four things is about to happen.

1. Both parties smile, relax and resume the conversation. By doing this you send a signal. You’re saying, “I want to be here. I could have excused myself to go to the bathroom or left you to order another cut-rate Mexican beer or gone off to make sure my car tires were still properly aligned, but I didn’t. I stayed. I like you.”

2. One person comments on the silence. This is risky. You either come off looking very lame or very cool. It’s exactly like owning a Vespa.

(Above: The Vespa — a knife that cuts both ways.)

3. Both parties look in the opposite direction and slowly pivot their bodies away from each other and pretend they never met. I perfected this maneuver in high school. It is sad the way the guy who goes to the grocery store after work to buy one can of Foster’s is sad. That’s like Level-3 Sad on the Sad 5-Scale.

4. One or both parties politely excuse themselves.

It turns out there is another option.

You also can mumble something, put your head down and bowl across the restaurant with the speed and determination of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. I didn’t know this was one of the options until that night at Flamenco dinner theater bar. I would advise against this option because every time I see the blonde Adrian Peterson I will think, “That’s the girl who ran 35 yards through the heart of the restaurant’s defense during the first break of our first conversation.”

(Above: The real Adrian Peterson runs away from a conversation with Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.)

Could she have had a bathroom emergency? It’s possible, but not likely. I saw her later and if she was not feeling well, her illness did not send her home and it did not show. The real sin – in my book – was that when we crossed paths the second time she did not acknowledge her awkward exit. She pretended it did not happen, ignoring the fart in our conversational elevator.

If she had said “Sorry about before but I really had to bust a wiz,” I would have laughed and remembered her forever as a superior brand of woman. That kind of honesty is rare and awesome and fun. Just once I’d like to hear a girl excuse herself for five minutes, come back and say, “I wouldn’t go in the women’s room for the next 35 to 45 minutes” and then make an exploding-bomb noise.

These are my fantasies.

I have problems.

Peaceful Warrior release

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles
  • Berto

    Ouch. You are forgetting the easiest of them all – segue into an interesting backup question you keep in the back of your pocket for such times. Just make sure you don’t use it twice on the same person!

    You can even practice your transition in the shower. I prefer to say “So, while you’re here, I had this funny situation last weekend…..” then tell the funny situation and ask the question.

    New conversation starts. It might be a conversation you’ve already had 3 times, but that’s ok if she doesn’t know it!


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: