The Conversationalist Column

Posted by Eleanor Rochman

Spontaneous interview victims are a lot harder to find than one may assume. You need to catch them alone and bored while participating in nothing more strenuous. My first two attempts at finding random interviewees was unproductive and discouraging; luckily, third time's the charm is a wonderfully accurate phrase.

            The first skid-kid I tried to talk to was standing in a t-shirt advertising yogurt, waiting for a sandwich in D-hall. I wish I had known that he would not have had the time to hold a short, friendly conversation because the situation quickly became uncomfortable when he blushed and tried to politely hint that he wanted nothing to do with an interview.

            In short, attempt number one equalled ultimate rejection: the word NO. This, I would generalize, is the one word people fear the most in stranger to stranger interactions and maybe even in life. And the cold honest truth of any social venture is that there is no way to guarantee avoiding rejection. The only way to get over "NO" is to not be discouraged.

            I introduced myself to another kid in dhall, asked him questions, and in return, got answers - facts. Unfortunately, I didn't want to know what he did, I wanted to know who he was. This was, again, an underlying form of rejection defined by a lack of connection due to my amateur interviewing skills. I thanked my second interviewee for his time and patience but still knew little to nothing of his character. I wanted to know his opinions, inner joys and strifes! I annoyed him for nothing but another half-assed conversation.

            After ruminating over my unsuccessful questioning tactics, I decided to take a break and think about what I was doing wrong. I wanted to stop going up to strangers and ask them questions, I felt self-conscious and annoying. Maybe random conversation is a rare phenomenon. Maybe it's hard to find people comfortable with talking to people they don't know and I can't say that I'm not.

            Then, one night, I wandered out of my dorm room on the second floor of McClellen no longer able to concentrate on homework, and the two interviewees of my dreams were right in front of my eyes. I met Kermit and his Best Friend Forever (their preferred pseudonyms) at midnight and they told me about...

            Before I begin, I should mention, in favor of Kermit especially, that his present state of consciousness during the interview could have been slightly impaired. He was, in fact, slightly incoherent, perhaps simply due to an overdose of sleeplessness. In other words, one could say he was drunk tired.

            Also, I might add, that this was an interview of just Kermit, but because his Best Friend Forever is almost like part of him, it was impossible to interview one of them without the other as they literally finished each other's sentences. Their physical image is irrelevant because it is their essence that makes them beautiful people.

            And so, what follows is a simple description of this adventure-filled interview. Kermit and his Best Friend Forever have known each other for a whole 7 years. Their relationship thrives off of nonsensical and vulgar usage of unnecessary profanity. Their verbiage, according to Kermit, displays their indescribable brotherly connection as there is very little that could break such a friendship, or rather, bromance.

            However, despite their free expression of playful scorn towards each other, Kermit and his Best Friend Forever have always been there for one another; namely throughout their girl problems. These girl stories went on and on along with other childhood stories shared between Kermit and his BFF.

            Kermit and BFF taught me about what it means to be best friends. They know each other's deepest darkest secrets. They will attend each other's weddings as best man, they have grown, are growing and will grow old together because their bro-love is so strong that they can "say whatever the fuck they want" around each other and that bond will never be broken. However, they also taught me about what it means to really know who someone is.

            It didn't take long for the interview to reach a point at which I no longer had to ask questions and could observe my interviewees in their natural habitat. Then, I realized that the best way to get to know who someone is when they are themselves around you, not by asking stupid questions about the facts. I didn't even need to know their real names!

            It's true that Kermit and his Best Friend Forever demonstrate a type of support and relationship to each other greatly envied by most humans, but I don't think this bond is uncommon. It's possible for everyone to be like Kermit and his BFF, and I know they would agree with me. The last thing I asked Kermit was about his philosophy on life, and he told me that one very important principle he lives by is that there is no such thing as a bad thing. He said, "A bad thing is just a good thing that didn't happen."  So, isn't every rejection just an opportunity to try harder to be accepted? Isn't every awkward conversation just a connection that hasn't been made yet? Isn't every stranger just a friend that hasn't been found?  From this philosophy, we must refuse discouragement; we must be blind to the fear of rejection and plunge into every stranger-stranger interaction knowing that we could find a Kermit and/or Best Friend Forever.

State of Our Unions

Faculty discuss fundraising campaigns and tenure in November meeting