One of the problems that I’ve had with blogging over the last year or three is that I sit down and don’t really have anything to say. That didn’t used to be a problem. I used to sit down and not have anything to say and end up saying something anyway. What has changed? Have I gotten duller, or did I exhaust my capacity for saying useless crap? That last one seems to be a stretch, so perhaps I’m going to have to admit I’ve gotten duller. I mean, I’ve had this blog more than ten years now. How many times have you read about my house being a cesspool? Well, zero, if you’re here for the first time, but I don’t think you are here for the first time. By the way, if you are here for the first time, let me know. Unless you’re a spambot, which in that case I want you to leave and never come back (no offense). Or you can come back, I guess, as long as you never let me know you were here. I’d be okay with a spamlurker, if such a thing existed. I’d be okay with unicorns too, just in case you were wondering.

Anyway, the other day I saw this article that refers to a study that used 36 questions to try to spur people to intimacy. And I thought, you know, I’m not good at coming up with original ideas, but one thing I am usually good at is filling out questionnaires. I’m not looking for love, really. I mean, I have love (I think) in my real life. I’m just looking for stuff to write about. So I thought I would use these 36 questions to get back into the habit of blogging regularly.

If you end up falling in love with me, I’m sorry.

Today’s question is the first question on the list: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

This is actually a terrible question for me to start with because given the choice of anyone in the world, I’m not sure I would like to have anyone over for dinner. First of all, do I have to make dinner for this person? Will I have to clean the house first? These are important variables, but not, I think, the sort of thing the question-framer(s) had in mind. Let’s assume my house is already clean and someone else has already made dinner, and all I need to do is ask someone to come eat with me. That brings to mind another question, though–is it just me and this other person having dinner? Because that could be awkward. I’m really not good at making conversation. Even my own husband has to drag stuff out of me half of the time. Maybe more than half. I don’t know. Maybe less than half. Maybe my husband is getting just as much information out of me as he wants. Maybe he’s getting more than he wants. Maybe he’d like me to shut up sometimes, on those rare occasions I have something to say. Which is it, honey? Wait, do I want to know? Maybe we’ll revisit this another time, over dinner.

My husband has a skill that my mother also had, which is the ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, with complete strangers when necessary. My mother used to strike up conversations with everybody, and she seemed to do this effortlessly. Well, she was an extrovert, and I am not, but she was also socially adept, which I am also not. Being introverted is not the same as being shy. I don’t actually like to think of myself as “shy.” I have always hated to be called shy, even when I was a kid and was certainly, objectively speaking, shy. People used to make allowances for me, like, “Oh, don’t mind Mad, she’s just shy,” but they’d say it like, “Oh, don’t mind Mad, she’s just incontinent.” It’s funny how quickly we perceive that “shy” is pejorative. I don’t see why it should be, and yet here I am getting bent out of shape over the idea that I should be described as “shy” rather than “quietly badass.” Surely I don’t have such a high opinion of myself that I should be embarrassed to admit to genuine shyness. Indeed, no one as self-aware as I am should shrink from calling herself what she is, regardless of how unflattering it may seem.

But I’m not sure “shy” is really the right word in my case. Shyness may be one of my problems, but it’s tangential to the core problem, which is that I am just really bad at talking to people. I should be more specific: I’m really bad at talking, period. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s been years (probably), so I will just do a quick recap. As soon as I start speaking, my mouth unplugs from my brain, so to speak, and it’s just running on what little information was downloaded to my tongue before speaking again. That is rarely enough to complete a thought, and I won’t have access to all the stuff I know and think in my brain again until I shut up. This puts me at a distinct disadvantage during an argument, which is the main reason why I’m usually so agreeable.

I’m like this with everyone, but less so with people I know well, with whom I don’t need to make small talk, which, after nearly 44 years on earth, I still haven’t learned how to do. I reckon that this question was probably meant to ascertain which well-known person I would want to have dinner with, but I don’t think I’d want to have dinner with any well-known people. Talk about social anxiety! So I guess if I had my choice of anyone on earth, the person I would want to have as a dinner guest would be someone I knew well enough that I wouldn’t have to make any small talk with them, and they would understand when I needed to stop and reboot my brain every ten seconds. Alternatively, I would want them to be a really good talker, so all I would have to do is listen. I still think I would rather have dinner with someone I know, so I think my choice would be one of my two best friends that I have had in my past, neither of whom is on the internet, so there’s no point in telling you who they are.

What about you, gentle readers? Who would be your choice of dinner guest?

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