The Monster Under My Bed
I learned last week why I’m no good at making small talk. The realization blew my mind.
Pennie and I were sitting in the sun room looking at our computers when she asked, “Did you get the email from Janet?”
“Should I answer it or will you?”
“You, please. I have no idea how to respond.”
Pennie smiled her knowing smile and began to type for both of us. Our friend Janet had sent us an email “just to stay in touch.” I enjoyed reading it, was glad she had sent it, but when it came to typing a response I was paralyzed.
“How’s this?” Pennie asked.
I looked at what she had written and was flabbergasted, “Princess, you are the smartest person in the world.”
Pennie smiled, then looked curiously concerned. Closing her computer, she asked, “Why is it so hard for you to make small talk?”
She knows that chitchatting with people is hell for me. Friends who know us casually think of me as quiet and mousy, “the guy who never says anything,” or ferociously unfriendly, “the guy with the giant ego.”
I looked at Pennie’s face and saw she expected an answer.
“Well,” I began slowly, “when a person says something like, “How about this day we’re having!” or asks one of those filler questions like, “How have you been?” every response that pops into my head strikes me as being utterly irrelevant or makes me look completely self absorbed.”
That was the Eureka moment. I think I may have actually gasped a little. With giant eyes I whispered, “It’s from all the years of ad writing!”
People who’ve seen me speak from a platform know I’m the king of forceful statements, persuasive arguments and ribald ripostes. But social situations require low-impact statements, the kind I guard against every day. I’m the bounty hunter who looks for words without impact and makes them disappear. My job is to keep my clients from making irrelevant statements in their advertising and make sure they never seem self-absorbed.
I’m less embarrassed by my awkwardness now. I think of it almost like a war wound, “Gather ‘round, children, and I’ll tell you how I got these scars.” How’s that for putting a spin on it?
Somewhere in this world is the most extraordinary ad writer on earth. I have no idea who he is.
The only thing I can tell you for sure is that he is socially very awkward.
Roy H. Williams
Twelve websites are going to be vastly improved. Will one of them be yours?
PS – I borrowed the title of today's memo, The Monster Under My Bed, from a song written by Adam Donmoyer. Adam is a gifted songwriter and a dazzling performer on the 88 black and white keys. His day job is helping me write ads for the clients of Wizard of Ads, Inc. When next you're on campus, ask if Adam is here. Perhaps he'll take a moment to walk down to Tuscan Hall with you and perform Monsters on the grand piano there.
The following hyperlink is one of those cryptic ones the vast majority of people will ignore. But you're not the majority of people. You're a person who rises to the challenge, right? You're that rare beagle who sniffs all the way to the bottom of the page. Right now you're saying, “Uh-oh, he's setting me up for something.” That's right, I am. But you're going to go ahead and click that link, aren't you? And we both know why.