It was an anonymous, old admonition from some book in a gift shop next to a bloody Civil War battlefield in Franklin, TN…

“A gentleman has never been seated by a boring person at dinner.  Neither has he been seated by a person who has been bored.”

These words struck a nerve. I had to write them down.  This was years ago, and I’ve recopied them again and again in fresh volumes of my ongoing Journal…

(The Dos Equis man has his way…but we have ours. For more use the DOOR.)

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A suggestion offered by the closet introvert who often prefers his own company to that of others. Occasion: He’s surrounded by seated strangers (or people he simply can’t remember), the food is slow in arriving, and the air’s empty of  interesting words.

Time for adventure: C. I. turns to the one seated next to him, opens his ears, puts on his cape of disguise and chooses to become “not most uninteresting man in the world.” And–perhaps for the whole meal–he hides his own well of (what he considers) treasure so as not to fuel what follows…unless his new companion cleverly plays a trump and wins the hand.  He begins (quietly): “My kids have encouraged me to ____ but I’m not sure if____.” “What do you like to do if____?” “Where would a person find____?” “When you worked at____what did you____? Where would you, or you and your family, visit if it was left up to you?” “What’s the best way to ____?”  “If you do ____, what do you have to watch for?” (Weather and sports hopefully bypassed here.) Still, this sort of lame questioning can prime the pump, but by using his divining rod, and keeping his ears tuned, C. I. gets him to talk, watching body language as he pokes to dredge up hidden interests and experiences, which might be delightful. After all he might learn something. Of course, in this adventure there may be a wrong turn or two, but so what. The goal: Make the other person unearth something special that he would never dream of talking about, turning on its head that old truism of social contact: “Nobody really cares about “it” (what deeply engages one’s personal interest) but you.”

A good deed has been done. Hopefully, soon the food arrives, it tastes good, and eventually C. I. can quietly sneak away..