Normally I’m pretty good at small talk, asking people questions about how they’ve been and what their plans are for the future. But sometimes, it just doesn’t come out and my hesitation chokes me into silence like a piece of meat, insufficiently chewed.
They’ll throw out their opening line. maybe;
How are you?
Yeah, pretty good——
And it’s off, mind scrambling to think of something to say, something relevant to recall about this person showing a polite interest in my life, but it freezes, stagnates, the silence goes on too long, creeps into awkward territory. I might raise my coffee to my lips to show that I have said all I have.
More often than not, the other person falters, but recovers, flailing out another question or launching a diatribe about themselves, which I greatly appreciate.
It’s worst when they’re multiple. Then they can just shoot each other a glance
“This guy is weird”
and continue on with each other, my opportunity dead, the awkwardness settling between us like a fog.