I’m thinking pure social conversation is dead. The way hip hop is ‘dead’, so is a simple friendly conversation. A hi. A nod. A smile. Without having strings attached. I had a friend complain to me about how she disliked this city. “People out here aren’t friendly. Nobody talks to each other. I don’t even know my neighbors.” Cringing, because admittedly I’m one of those people. Don’t know my neighbors and don’t care to. Until…I need to borrow a cup of sugar. Until there’s that apartment pool party going on and everyone’s invited but me. She talks about the south and how everyone is so friendly and strangers come up and say hi and start up conversations. I said yeah thats nice…But, I explained, that out here nobody wants to talk just to shoot the breeze. There’s always a damn catch. Just when you think a brother is actually interested in your Ghana necklace and how you came to get it, he suddenly whips out a handful of C.D.’s and business cards and explains how he would like to add me to his ‘fan club’ Or the dude who acts like he’s interested in the Tananarive Due book I’m reading, but quickly switches the subject as he hands me his card regarding an Islamic church and how he would love for me to call him, so we can discuss where we came from Or this chick, whom I’m discussing my other 2nd home to, Mpls, and how we both miss the culture and nature, she abruptly cuts the conversation short to tell me about her ‘business venture’ and would love to bring me on board. (She said I had great conversation skills) Or the coworker whom I’m meeting for the first time engages me about his homeland Jamaica, only to cut me short when I start speaking about my own culture, only to hand me…yes, a damn business card. He’s an aspiring DJ who would like me to spread the word about his future performances. Or the sweet lady who comments on how I look like her niece and what church do I attend, only to cut the conversation short, explaining how she’ll give me a dollar if she could use my phone
That’s, I explain to my friend, why I don’t talk to folks. Cause everybody wants something. Whatever happened to giving a friendly nod to a brother without him assuming that it must be more than that. Whatever happened to catching the breeze with neighborhood Joe without him trying to recruit you into his church/organization/cult. Can’t I just have an intelligent converstation without me walking away with a pocket full of business cards. And I know folks have to network, which is extremely important, but damn.
Yet, then I think about my ambitious days when I had my own back pocket full of business cards and every conversation (stranger, friend, co-worker) became a sells pitch. Yeah, I been on the other end.
So gone are the days of conversation? Maybe it’ll make a comeback. Like Zoot Suits