Scared of Small Talk

Confessions of a Microglossophobe

If, like me, you’re the sort of unwholesome individual who gets a sly kick out of reading about other people’s misfortunes and (or) anxieties, then no doubt you have at some point stumbled across one of the internet’s many lists of recognised phobias. From a fear of spiders to a terror of small spaces it seems that there’s a phobia for pretty much anything you can think of.

Pognophobics, for example, are terrified of beards. If you’re a coulrophobe the mere mention of the word clown is enough to set your heart hammering. And we can only imagine the convulsions of fright a pogno-coulrophobe would suffer should they ever be greeted by the sight of a bearded clown.

Although, to be fair, I’m sure a lot of people could relate to that one.  Becasue clowns with beards are more evil than Jeremy Clarkson. Fact.

Now, apart from this little peccadillo I have of dunking slabs of Victoria sponge cake into my tea, I like to think of myself as a relatively well rounded human being with very few hang ups. Certainly I’m not the sort of chap to suffer from anything as irrational as a phobia.

Except that’s not true.

You see, I am a microglossophobe.

And no, you won’t find that particular phobia on any list. Because I invented it (micro:small, glosso: speech).

But that doesn’t make it any less real and I’m sure I can’t be the only microglossophobe out there, so please, fellow sufferers, let’s unite in our absolute dread of making small talk. With acquaintances. Particularly, (but not exclusively) acquaintances you bump into in the street.

Oh the horror.

It’s the awkward silence that get’s me.

That moment when you both run out of things to say and you find yourself staring into each others eyes and you both know that you are thinking the same thing; that you desperately want to get away, but you know that you can’t because that would be rude and then the panic sets in, your brain seizes up, feet start to shuffle, cheeks flame up, eyes water and your throat makes those weird coughing/swallowing sounds and you start saying things like,‘so…’, or ‘yeah…’ and you find yourself nodding your head for absolutely no reason.

The things is, I’m not a naturally shy person. Get to know me and I can talk the hind legs of a mammoth. I’m great in interviews, love public speaking, but the mere thought of catching sight of someone I ‘sort of know’ and then having to engage in an abysmally vapid and banal exchange of pleasantries about the weather, or the price of carrier bags, is enough to stop me from going out and buying coffee.
And I love coffee.

So what’s a chap to do?

Well, ignore people obviously. Quickly look the other way. Become suddenly engrossed in the nearest shop window. Or, if there are no shops to hand, one’s shoes. An imaginary airplane.

Anything.

Failing that just pretend you’re someone else.

All of the above being tactics I ashamedly admit to actually having used. Even when it’s someone I quite liked; the fear of social awkwardness far outweighing the fear that I might come across as ignorant, rude,and run through with a misanthropic streak so wide I make the shark in Jaws look like Mother Theresa.

Perhaps it’s time I did something about it. I suppose I could get some counseling.

Or I could just start going out in disguise.  Which is clearly the better option.

Anyway, best to look on the bright side. I could suffer from zuigerphobia, a fear of vacum cleaners.

Now that would really suck…

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Author: benrattle

Copywriter, aspiring screenwriter. Push up nut. Coffee drinker.

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