Tag Archives: friend

How to Small Talk


Alright boys and girls gather ‘round. I’m going to share with you the secret of (drum roll, please) Small Talk with the Opposite Sex. It is an art form that very few members of the species understand how to employ with someone they’ve just met. Especially if there is any type of physical attraction.

It’s Saturday night and you’re at the club. You’ve just gotten your first drink, so you’ve been there long enough to check out the crowd. There are a few faces softly illuminated by their cell phones as they tap away on the screen. A few more are into heavy conversations with others in their space. Some are dancing to the music in choreographed formation. Some others have a ring on the third finger of their left hand.

These situations equal an Automatic No. An invisible “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs above each of these people. Do not attempt to engage them in small talk. It may end in Automatic Rejection.

Then there are the rest of the patrons. They might be sitting at the bar, perhaps chatting pleasantly with others around them. Perhaps not. Some might be waiting in a line for whatever the reason. Others just milling about. Choose the one that you find attractive.

Ready? Here we go.

  • Respect – This word gets thrown around a lot, but few people seem to understand what it is. For those not sure, here’s a primer. Don’t invade the personal space (which should get you slapped/pushed away), do not leer (you might get an introduction to the bouncer), don’t ask if she fell from heaven, etc. (cheesy lines are meant for use between friends/lovers, not strangers).
  • Engage – Start small. Say hello, or hi, or hey, or whatever you generally say when you meet someone. Don’t fake it. It’ll show. This is the first impression, right? Just say hello.
  • Accept Rejection – Like a well-mannered person should. Did she offer a quick smile and then turn her back on your greeting? That is as polite a rejection as she should have to give. Besides, if you walk away, she just might call you back.
  • Introduce yourself – If she didn’t turn away from your greeting, tell her your name. Please don’t offer your hand while doing so. Too many jerks, I mean germs, are around to allow physical contact on an intro in a bor. If she still hasn’t turned away, ask for her name.
  • Banter –The ice is broken, she has given you her name. Tell her your impression of it. “That’s a (nice/unique/elegant) name,” for instance. Speak to her about anything else that will carry on the conversation. With the exception of money, politics, and/or religion. Those are the three big No-No’s. The weather, the club, sports, pick a topic. This is also where you can offer to buy the next drink.
  • Interested – Here is the most crucial piece of advice that I can offer. LISTEN. Put aside your lust and imaginings and listen to what the person is saying. Repeat it back, if you must, but listen. The natural course of human interaction should take it from there.

What if you find that you aren’t really ‘attracted’ to the person once the conversation has begun? Well, remember this… you can never have too many friends.

There are literally billions of people out there. Take this Small Talk guide and apply it in other places. Get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone sitting on the bus next to you. Or standing in line at the store. Or anywhere else you might find yourself with people you don’t already know. Small talk may lead to bigger things.




Dear Suzy

Dear Suzy,

I’ve waited long enough. I’m sorry, again, for what I did and said. I was wrong. Yes, I’ve already apologized, and we (kind of) got past it. But at two hundred and fifty miles apart, getting together is a challenge for “hugging it out.”

But now, there’s something I need to say to you. Since you’re not standing in front of me, this letter will have to do.

We met when we were around three. Throughout our childhoods, our home lives were strikingly similar. Alcoholic Mother and Father (for me, step-father), who might lash out at a moment’s notice. In your family, the kids might’ve been spared, but the grown-ups fought each other, sometimes violently. For mine, the kids were not spared. Sometimes violently. You kept me steady throughout that nightmare.

Your birthday was only two weeks before mine, and you made sure I remembered that you were the elder. Suzy, even though we were only two weeks apart, I admit, you did teach me so much. Which brings me to why I’m writing this letter.

An ancient soul who loves to laugh is the way I’d describe you. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh. Your contagious joy infected me and it runs through my veins to this day.

Thank you for teaching me what a Sister is and does. Yes, I have three by blood (and one brother), but we were all in a strained situation. Fostering close relationships was not our parent’s goal.

Thank you for teaching me to be proud of me. Growing up, there were a number of authority figures in my life from whom disrespect and shame were daily lessons. You taught me that self-respect, and pride, weren’t dirty words.

Thank you for teaching me dependability. No matter where you might’ve been, should the need arise and I called, you came to my side. You were there for me. Physically. Not just a phone call, not platitudes. You arrived on my doorstep, if for no other reason but to offer moral support (and rum). There are people in my life today that know if the need should arise, they only have to call me and I’ll come (with rum, most likely). You taught me that.

Thank you for teaching me that the truth ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Thank you for teaching me spontaneity. One phone call from you in the middle of an ordinary Friday afternoon, and we were checked into a beach hotel to watch the sunrise Saturday. And, speaking of that…

Thank you for all of the sunrises we spent on the beach together.

Which brings us back to this letter. I think that’s what went wrong the last weekend we spent together. There was no beach nearby. Granted, November isn’t exactly beach weather. But, we let angry words and actions go too long. The phone calls helped get us through the roughest patch. By February we were making noise about the next beach day.

But then you hit me with your final lesson. How to live without you.

You died so suddenly. You left this earth without as much as a goodbye. You went to sleep one night at the age of fifty-four and didn’t wake up the next morning. Your husband, daughters, friends, family, everyone whose life you touched, went reeling like a taught cord snapping. With your beautiful, ready smile, and filthy sense of humor gone, how could life ever be the same?

The answer is it can’t be the same. Ever. Your quick wit, your laughter, intellect, unending support, and effervescent encouragement are gone.

Our life-long friendship is over.

Sometimes, when I find one of those random greeting cards you’d sent (with a hand-written, Love, Suzy) or drive by a hotel we’d stayed in, or mention your name in a conversation with others, my breath catches and I have to pause to keep myself from crying. Dammit woman, I miss you.

Life will never be the same. But it is better because you were here.


JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Trip of A Lifetime – Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Part 6


The vagabond suitcase had been severely damaged during its time away. The back wheels did not want to cooperate, due to the new cracks in the hard plastic between the back two roller mounts and the hard shell. We tried to make it work for as long as we could, but the poor thing gave up the ghost in the wild chase to the airport. One wheel came off. The cab driver was as careful as he could be, but we knew that before boarding the tour bus tomorrow, we’d have to get a new one. Since we didn’t have to meet up with the tour guide until 2pm, we felt there would still be plenty of time.

We reached the Clayton Hotel at 10pm, and after checking in, we tried to organize as much as possible. Around 1am, we passed out.

We should have set an alarm. If we had, we may not have slept until 11. I guess “pass out” until 11 would be more appropriate.

The hotel clerk gave us quick instructions as to where the closest place to find a suitcase might be, then she started to give me bus instructions.

I thanked her, then told her we’d prefer a cab. She agreed that’d be quicker.

The cab driver heard a small portion of our sob story and laughed/sympathized as a real Irishman can do. It was cathartic.

He waited for us to run in, buy a case, and run back out to his cab. It took us ten minutes. We didn’t even stop to try the zipper.

By the time we got back, swapped bags, and woofed down a semblance of a meal, it was 1:30. I showered, dressed, and ran to the lobby as my husband rushed to do the same.

The tour guide, Patrick, was a gem. He said no problem about the time crunch. He told me to take my time. So long as my time was 2pm.

Somehow, we did it.

From that moment on, this trip has taken a complete turnaround. Patrick drove the tour group totaling twenty-three wonderful souls around Dublin. He spoke as only a true native who knows and loves his country could. We were immersed in the history, culture, and highlights of this city. Back to the hotel for a quick change, and we were taken to the ultimate tourist stop of Dublin, The Merry Ploughboy Pub. Complete with an Irish band and Irish River Dancers, it was a rollicking, joy-filled evening. Even as two tourists from tourist town, we were impressed. And drunk.

I should mention that one of the main reasons we chose to come to Ireland is due to a friend who was a native born Irish man. Jerry was a man among men, God rest his soul. While he was with us, he said we should come to Ireland and sample the real life. He wanted to show us what the real Ireland was. To take us to the places he knew and loved. We did not have the opportunity to take him up on his offer before he passed unexpectedly, and far too soon. The joy that the man possessed was a testament to the spirit of Ireland. His family and friends, all those who had the honor of knowing the man, still reels at his loss. We have the privilege and honor of knowing his sister, who still lives here in this enchanting place.

We told her that we were coming for a tour bus-type visit, and she insisted on seeing us. If you’ve taken a tour bus before, you know that schedules are tight, and tough to work around. But this woman would not be deterred. I wanted to let her know that she didn’t have to worry about seeing us this round. That we would do our level best to return. She still wanted to know where we were going to be, and when. I caught her up on our itinerary, which was Blarney at noon, then on to Killarney at 3:15.

On Sunday (my good lord, is it only Sunday?) Pat drove us to Blarney, the home of the famous Blarney Stone.

We trudged up the incredible spiral staircase to reach the top of the battlements, and took pictures of the two men who would hold the tourists feet as they climbed into the small crevice to kiss the stone. I took pictures of the men, and the caged stone, because there was not a snowball’s chance in hell either one of us were going to kiss that rock. But, we were allowed up on the ledge to get a better angle of the view. I’m telling you true, there really should be parachutes issued before leaning over that wall.

After we got back to solid ground (a harrowing experience, to be sure), we wandered the grounds admiring the gardens, the waterfalls, and the witches caves. Tired and hungry, we headed back to the parking area for the restaurants. I stopped at the bus to see if I could get wifi on my phone, and while staring intently at the screen I heard a woman call out “Jeanie!”

Jerry’s sister Sara had come to Blarney to find us. She’d been wandering the tour groups, asking if their bus was Killarney bound. She and her husband had grilled each tour bus driver if they had customers from America, Florida specifically.

Can I stop for a moment and tell you how emotional this moment was for me?

Oh. Wait. I just did.

They joined us at the lunch table, and we talked excitedly like old friends. I watched her talk, and my heart swelled with honor to be there, at that moment, watching not only her lips speak in the rapid, heavy dialect of her native cadence, but to see the smile reach her eyes. To see the joy of the spirit of this fabulous, strong Irish woman.

I don’t know my personal heritage. That’s the curse of being a bastard American mutt. But at that moment, I decided I will be Irish. Someday I might do that whole DNA test thing, but probably not. My spirit connected with this person. With this place. With this time. I felt home.

But wait. There’s more…

Our tour stopped for the night in Killarney. A small town, yes, but a bustling tourist destination just the same. I’m told it would take only fifteen minutes to walk end to end of the entire town.

We had a grand dinner, then left the comfort of the room to see the area on our own. We had a Jameson in a pub, and then bought some souvenirs. Soon, it was dark, and we were tired and tipsy, so decided to return to our hotel and get ready for the 6am wake up call.

You may not believe this, but on our way back, we ran into a parade. Cars led a fire truck, merrily sounding its horn and blaring its siren. Loaded with the team members who’d won a major tournament just that day, and they were brandishing an incredible winning cup. The entire town must have turned out to follow it through the street. My husband and I stood on the sidewalk, cheering and recording the festivity on my phone.

Toward the tail end of the pageant, a man walking in the procession saw me. He said, and I quote, “Put down the phone and join the parade!”

And so I did. We walked with them, cheering the team and learning about the father of one of the boys on the team who walked nearby. He was nearly bursting with pride, as any eye could see. And we had the honor of sharing his moment.

I have video of the original man’s invitation. It will be saved for as long as I have video to save. It will be saved in my heart far longer.

We’ll be traveling from here to Shannon in the next two days. I cannot imagine how this last twenty-four hours might be topped.

Go ahead, Ireland. I dare you.