You introduce yourself or are introduced, the starting gate is lifted, and you are off:
"So nice to meet you. You, too! How about this weather? It's great! Isn't it, though? It is! Makes me want to go fishing. I love fishing! Me too! Angling or fly? Yes! Do you have siblings? I do! And you? No! Families are great! They are! Except when they're not. So true! But, this weather is really great. It is! Makes me think of baseball. And I know things about that!"
And on it went, at full gallop. We circled around the track of profound chat. We surged forward in conversational reckless abandon, brushed against meaningfulness only enough to fill in the blanks with vagaries, and hurled out whatever we knew or had within arms reach.
Then, as suddenly as the conversation started, it fell apart. We reached all that we had in common or wanted to know. The day's quota for exclamation points was met. I sifted in vain through other punctation and words and letters (and, yes, even some numbers) for an appropriate end. But, there did not seem to be one. The track had disappeared and our horses had plummeted into oblivion.
So, we sat in the drudge of mundanity and tried to pretend it was interesting. Well, I tried, anyway. I searched for conversation in an empty tea cup. I traced the rim of the saucer and thought there must be something worthwhile in that. I talked about the spoon I was holding. "It feels heavier than a spoon," I said. And Allister nodded. He said nothing. He nodded.
And I thought, "Do I just go? Do I go out the front door? Do I crawl under the table until he goes? Or do I just sit here and wait until I completely disappear? What is the polite thing to do in these matters?"
And Allister said nothing.
I mentioned the weather again. We both seemed to think it was nice. Didn't we? We did. Right? Remember? Oh, that was so long ago. The conversation had aged so. I suppose it's hard to say, now (or then, as it is (or were)).
And Allister said nothing.
He nodded again and smiled. And, then, looked out the window to confirm what we had already discussed ad nauseum. And, when he had confirmed what we had long ago decided (the weather was still great!), he turned back to our lack of conversation and said nothing. Nothing. I even thought he thought nothing. Nothing nothing. And nothing.
And I thought, at that point, we were dead. We had to be. Our life had been drained out and emptied into whatever container also held all the contents of our conversation. Later in our lives when the ratio of gaps filled to gaps unfilled leaned far towards the former, I told Allister that thought.
And he finally said something.
He said he thoroughly enjoyed the awkwardness.