Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's not what you think

What is the appropriate way to leave someone after your conversation with them has been interrupted by someone else? This always seems to happen to me in 770; I'll be talking with someone, someone else comes, and they begin to chat with the guy I was talking to. Should I just leave without saying goodbye, hang around looking like a fool, or say goodbye while looking like a fool?

In other news, dedicated reader (really?) Rabbi Mottel Friedman reports that he was accosted in the airport by some random element of Jewish society, who on hearing that the good Rabbi was from Minnesota, asked if he was "The Real Shliach"? In point of fact, he is a real Shliach, as substantiated by the bracelet he'll be wearing to the banquet tomorrow night, but he isn't "The Real Shliach", since that is of course me. Still, it is nice to know that random elements are reading and internalizing the messages contained in this blog, though what exactly those messages are has yet to be determined. In short, this brief tale provided a wonderful ego-boost at a time when one was certainly welcome. Of course, they are very rarely ever not welcome, though that is as may be.

Continuing in this snippety vein, the thought crossed my mind, "Why am I still trying to find something to write at 2:00 AM?" Last week's topic may have been distasteful, but it had the wonderful effect of providing me with fodder for several excellent posts, E's comments notwithstanding. Tonight, however, I just didn't seem to be able to get on a roll. Oh great, now I sound like an interior linebacker explaining why the defense gave up 600 yards and seven touchdowns in the first half. "Yeah," Johnson said, "we just weren't able to penetrate like we normally do." When asked by this reporter why he failed to record a single tackle in the first thirty minutes of play, despite having ample opportunity to do so, Johnson said, "Sometimes, you just can't pull through. It's hard on us, sure, but we have to use this half as a lesson, and come out stronger next time we're on the field."
Yeah, that's what I feel like. Hey, at least I got to see Nemo. It was pretty funny too, as I didn't even recognize him until he mentioned something about Philadelphia, and his identity suddenly dawned on me. Fortunately, Kedushah of Shacharis then started, and I got the opportunity to formulate something intelligent to say. In the football analogy I've got going now, that would be like Johnson opining, "You liked how we came back in the second half, huh? You saw that fumble return I had for a score? Uh huh, that's what I'm talking 'bout baby. All right, so our kicker missed the extra point (because I failed to guard my man on the play), but it was a score, right? Only six points this team put on the board-all mine. Thank you very much."
Fortunately, I'm no football player, even if I did once break Dovi Slater's arm while playing, and my fictional Johnson isn't writing. And that reminds me...


Nemo said...

I can't recall: was I whisked away from you mid-conversation?

That seemed to happen to me a lot this weekend. You know, where you see everyone in the world all at once and you have to make that immediate judgment of what the particular individual is worth in you eyes and whether you can or should suspend other conversations in their recognition or benefit.

Crazy, the 770 life!

It gets complicated when you have to adjudge the value of speaking to one person over the other where the conversation is excellent, and someone else chances upon you who you haven't seen in a long time.

And then there's those other people who don't realize when their turn with you is up.

Just like a guy said...

"And then there's those other people who don't realize when their turn with you is up."

You should have a slot to put in another quarter.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R.S.
An interesting problem of etiquette - I believe the correct way to deal with this is for the person addressed by the third person to stop their conversation and introduce person #3 to the individual he was originally talking to. That way equal weight is given to both parties - hopefully tact on everyone's part will resolve the importance of each conversation.
This actually raises an interesting point - members of the Chabad movement (BTs, lifers etc.) are not known for their - well to put it bluntly - manners. Issues involve essentially every public activity.
Perhaps you could take on a "Miss Manners"-like role and advise your colleagues on some of the more basic aspects of social interaction. For example, take chewing - often too loud and with mouths open; soup eaten with too many slurping sounds (which is strange because its usually cold by the time it gets to the table)- well I'm sure you get the idea.
And of course with syndication you could turn this into a very profitable side-line.
Delicately eating my cucumber sandwiches, Leo de Toot.

e said...

To my dear cucumber sandwich-eating Leo de Toot,

The veneer of feasibility with which your suggestion is graced in your mind is due to your lack of understanding of the social dynamics of those who are faced with the problem we are setting out to solve. In South Africa, that land of Braais and friendly socialization, one appreciates being introduced to one's friends' friends. In 770, where one's friends' friends include freaking everybody, introducing one's friends to one's other friends would wreak horrific havoc. We'd just end up getting introduced to bajillions of people in whose acquaintance we are not the least interested.

I propose we follow the suggestions suggested by Mr. R. Shliach and Nemo: finding that delicate point of balance between talking too much and talking too little, and continuing to search for a graceful way to say goodbye when our friends have--without our leave--begun conversing with other, non-mutual friends.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear e:
Your point is well-taken.

One tends to forget, while being jostled, pushed, elbowed and interrupted that 770 is socially, politically and spiritually a unique location.

Silly me,
L d T.