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The Book of Na'Lon

or rather, Inane Ramblings of an Expatriot

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Of Talking to People
A friend posted something on her lj that made me think.

I think most people that know me in real life would consider me to be fairly sociable and good at talking to people. I suppose I am - I can talk to pretty much anyone (as long as we speak roughly the same language) - but, like most of the people I know - I do not find it easy to talk to people. It costs me a lot of effort and I do get peopled out. Even if the people are friends.

Over the years I have learnt a few things about talking to people. There are ways of cutting a conversation short (politely) if it's not going to go anywhere or indeed of making it worthwhile. So my remedy against having to make smalltalk is two-fold: I bore people rigid by talking about my research or history, or I admit to being a role-player, costumer, Tolkien fan and scare them off. As a result I have had some interesting conversations.

But there are times when there is a good reason to make smalltalk, and I do so on those occasions. Or I find ways of telling people I am a geek in muggle terms. E.g. I am involved with an improvisation drama group and I am a member of an educational charity. ;-)

The most interesting outcome of this strategy is, however, that I now actually have a couple of muggle friends who do know about my geekdom and don't sneer, but meet me on a Monday with greetings such as: "How was the role-playing?" or "How is your writing going?" Nix is one of these. She may never want to join an RPG or want to read what I write, but she respects that this stuff is real and important to me.

As for those people that give me funny looks in response to my topics of conversation... do I really want to prolong my encounters with them?


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It's amazing what a conversation-stopper some things can be. I often find mentioning I like heavy metal or that I have more than a passing interest in Sci Fi is enough to make people say things like 'But you seem so normal!'. Making costumes, role-playing & computer gaming also usually get a similar reaction.

Mention chainmail and the general assumption is that you are some sort of deviant! That either kills the conversation dead and people back away giving you funny looks. Or they feel it's ok to start asking all sorts of inappropriate things about your sex-life at which point I back away giving them funny looks ;-)

I *so* agree with you. Especially about the chainmail. Even fandom people seem to have that response. Grr!

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Pellinor could speak with more authority than I can, since he's spent years making mail on public transport, but from what I've observed, conversations of the "what on earth are you doing?" variety tend to very quickly end up either talking about knitting and dropped stitches, or involving the words "chainmail jock strap", "chainmail bikini", or "chainmail thong."

"Knit one, purl one" is another common phrase.

I think the chain of thought is something like mail -> chains -> bikers/punks -> leather -> fetish wear.

Certainly there are people making mail fetish/bondage stuff. I suppose if you like having chains around in sex you might as well have pretty ones :-)

I have to admit that while I don't have any particular desire to make such articles for myself, I have wondered whether branching out into making mail fetish/bondage gear to sell on-line, might not provide an opportunity to make some extra cash.

Oddly whilst linking a few rings at Moor Street on the way to Sarehole Mill I was observed and then quizzed by some Japanese tourists. They didn't ask about my sex life but what I was doing, and then after explaining I politely asked what they were doing (going to Stratford).

Perhaps the sex thing is just a sign of someone who is screwed up and confuses slightly-secret/unusual hobby with 'the sex'

Wierd ...

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