CHUCK KLOSTERMAN, aside from writing one of my favorite books ever, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs has also created HYPERtheticals, 50 questions which he offers as the basis of conversations you need to have “if you want to find out who other people really are.” It’s an “insane” but interesting substitution for small talk.
‘SOME PEOPLE ARE EXTREMELY GOOD AT MAKING SMALL TALK. THESE PEOPLE ARE BETTER KNOWN AS “IDIOTS.”
These are the kind of humans who can talk to a stranger for 40 minutes without learning anything essential about who that stranger is–they talk about the weather and about other people, and they mention what kind of car they drive and how old their children are. They have conversations in public that are ultimately no different than silence in an empty room.
I refuse to be that kind of person.
I refuse to make small talk. I refuse. I don’t care what the situation is or what the protocol is supposed to be: I see no value in asking someone a friendly, nonadversarial question if neither party cares what the answer is. Instead, I prefer to ask questions where the solution is irrelevant–I pose hypothetical questions where how one answers the query matters far more than the literal conclusion. There is no “right” answer to these kinds of questions. The end never matters; what matters is how you get to the end. What matters is how you think, not what you think.’
ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ME is that I don’t do small talk. I don’t understand what the point of that is, I don’t know how to go about it, and I generally have no interest whatsoever in engaging the people I meet in such a frivolous, contrived way. Of course, I cannot entirely refrain from using those informal social conventions often associated with the kind of phatic communication I so disapprove of, but I think it’s nearly impossible to meet someone and not ask them how s/he is doing. Just try it. Even I wouldn’t begin a conversation with someone I just met by asking him if he takes it up the butt. . .or you know, about his sexual orientation or anything.
I at least ask him how he’s doing first.
But that’s where the small talk ends.
I don’t wanna talk about the weather, or ask you crap about your favorite fucking color. I can’t talk to you about most of the shit on TV because I’m hardly aware of the shows myself and therefore don’t care if you saw the last episode of Jersey Shore or True Blood. I’m just not interested in that sort of thing. And I’d rather experience the excruciating discomfort of the awkward silence pervading this conversation than to suffer the mind-numblingly stupid substance of a shallow conversation on Lady GaGa. I’ve chosen this option many, many times, and this should come as no surprise as we’ve already established that I can awkward.
Besides not being a fan of wasting time, being frank and even a little forward with people at the get go is as much an effective way of figuring people out as it is sincere; it’s the way I prefer to get to know someone. I just get right into it with him. Go. Let’s not waste time with the meaningless chatter, let’s try and avoid the bulk of the awkwardness by removing the cheesy first steps. I wanna know what you’re all about from the moment I meet you. I wanna know what your deal is from the very beginning, and I wanna cut the crap and get to the crux of who you are. I can’t do that with petty small talk. And I won’t.
That may appear like an impolite or overwhelming experience to have with anyone, particularly a stranger, but what it reads on paper is not quite what it is in person. It won’t come across as impolite if you know how to speak to people, and vice versa, and it certainly shouldn’t be overwhelming if you are comfortable in your own skin and know who the fuck you are. A little intensity and provocative conversation won’t hurt anyone. In fact, I think many of us would agree that there is a lack of frank and substantive conversation occuring among people today. So, just tell me who you are, what’s the first thing about you, or what I need to know and you’ll be fine. Tell me what’s important. If you can’t do that then chances are the conversation and interest in you aren’t going to last very long. And trust me, if you don’t even know what those things are, I’ll know that, too.
If this comes off to you as inappropriate, uncool, not nice, or whatever, or if you just dislike my process that’s fine. To each his own. I understand that small talk can often have its redeeming qualities. But I’m pretty much an ass-backwards, unorthodox kinda chick. You may use small talk to (hopefully) get to a deeper, meaningful conversation at some point, but I start with the latter to determine if we can goof off later. That’s right. I love fucking around with my friends, to joke, and have ridiculous talks with them. I can say some of the dumbest shit you’ve ever heard. But I only do this with people after I get the good stuff out of the way and we come to a certain level of respect and understanding with each other. I only do this with people who weren’t afraid to become my friend from day one. That may not make sense to you, but it’s perfectly logical to me.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily use any of these “hypertheticals” in actual conversation, nor do the questions I ask people in real life resemble anything you will read under this category in the future. But I thought, “why not?” I’m curious to see what people would answer to 50 of the most absurdly personal questions posed.
But first I’m going to answer every single one of them myself.
I’ve had the chance to look each question over and at least get an idea of how I would answer them. They’re not questions you’d hear being asked on Miss America, and they definitely shouldn’t be answered in a Miss America way. In other words, do not answer them like this:
First response coming soon.