The dinnertime conversation was about K. Rudd and the recent comments that the more you got to know him, the less you liked him. The man across the table from me said,
“Apparently Wolfowitz was like that too.” Everyone at the table nodded as though they understood and they agreed. Some nodded so emphatically it seemed like they had heard that about Wolfowitz as well.
I was thinking “Who the hell is Wolfowitz?” The name seemed really familiar – was he a politician, an author or a Wiggle?
My general knowledge may be fading, but I can still pick up on social cues, so I laughed and nodded like everyone else. I resisted the temptation to run to the bathroom and google Wolfowitz on Husband’s iPhone.
The conversation then continued:
“There’s nothing like filling out US immigration forms to make you feel like you’re in a Kafka novel.” This time I knew what he was talking about, not because I have actually read any Kafka (there I said it, I have not read any Kafka), but because my best friend has read a lot of it and 20 years ago she explained it to me – thereby enabling me to fake my way through many a pretentious conversation at the Uni Bar.
This was my first adult dinner party for many years. By “adult” I don’t mean that we placed our keys in a bowl at the front door. No, I just mean that we were invited to a friend’s place for a sit-down three-course dinner, with two new couples and no children, no Lightning McQueen crockery and no leftover fishfingers.
I admit I approach meeting new people with a little trepidation. Having to sit down with them for three hours and sustain a continuous conversation? Cold fear. My current pattern of social interaction is fragmented. Talking – much like sleeping, eating, weeing, showering and even sex – is constantly interrupted by one to four small children who either need something, want something, have broken something or are about to run into a carpark.
I am worried I have forgotten how to converse with adults in full, fluent sentences. At the very least, I know alarming gaps are appearing in my vocabulary.
According to my neurosurgeon father, the brain is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised in order to stay in shape. I struggle with mental exercise almost as much as I do with sit-ups. At the end of each day, after parenting and domestic activities, I am drained. I need to watch a depraved American crime drama to relax (complete with perps who were all badly parented) and then I fall asleep.