Each Sunday, Marie Antoinette becomes your personal sherpa, answering questions on love and life. To have Marie weigh in on your dilemma, big or small, email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.
I am sometimes invited to fancy parties with my boyfriend with people who I barely know. Some of them are intense talkers and it’s difficult to break myself away and I’d like to meet new people. What do I do?
Let’s face it. Not everyone is endlessly interesting. Much of life is hum-drum and requires steely patience to get to the good parts. Of course, you can’t let on that you feel this way, especially when your boyfriend’s coworker goes on and on (again) about how her puppy “Just seems more alert than other puppies” and his boss shares the riveting play-by-play of his latest golf swing. Being present for boring conversations is a measure of good breeding. It creates good will and is a show of respect. It requires only focus and skill and is a match for any queen.
Practice makes perfect. Sit in front of a wall or stand in the park regarding a large rock. Time yourself for longer and longer intervals. Repeat.
Maintain eye contact. This is essential. Stay engaged. Don’t doodle or fidget. If you need to, pinch your arm to stay awake and alert. Stiff upper lip!
Suppress all outward signs of dire boredom.
To hide a yawn, turn your head momentarily and pretend you’re fixing the strap on your shoe. In this position, if you’ve the presence of mind, mouth the words “Help Me” to whomever is in eyeshot.
To subtly prop your own eyes open, hold your hand to your face as if you’re in utter disbelief at your partner’s wit and charm while keeping your fingers desperately pressing upwards on your eyelids and brows. Fight the urge to nod off or weep.
Try to get a word in edgewise. If you do not use your jaw muscles you risk losing them altogether. Small utterances will suffice. “Did you ever find correct the vacuum bag?” And, “Aren’t you clever to sort your socks by season and not by color. You rake!”
Look on the bright side. Your captivity can’t last forever. One or both of you will eventually perish, succumbing to the need for food or water. However, you’ll likely be freed before you truly die of boredom so visualize your new life, skipping through poppy fields and stretching your unused limbs. You’ll likely smile at this, impressing your talker with your pleasant countenance and your skills as a brilliant conversationalist.
I joke, but unfortunately, you’ll need to suffer through as much as you can, as a gracious guest of kind strangers. That said…
Putting an end to your suffering
You are a queen, not a saint. Once you have given your time, you can excuse yourself without prejudice to pay court to others.
Don’t let them recharge. Don’t let your talker take another coffee, another cigarette or any other such stimulant. It’s an unfair advantage and you simply don’t have the strength. If he or she reaches for such items, use the pause to break for your escape.
Help them prepare for your absence. Look away. Clear the table. Start gathering your things. Show your talker what your leaving will look like. And then — by God, woman — get up and go.
Lie. I must circulate! I need to see the host! My house is on fire! Darling, I’m being eaten alive by deer ticks, but we’ll continue where we left off. I promise.
Faint. This should be reserved only for dire circumstances. Collapse on the floor and do not allow your talker to revive you (because if that happens, you will never, ever escape). If you have the misfortune to be caught alone with your talker, it is not impolite to fake your own death. This is complicated but preferable to another interminable conversation.