{ Suggested Topics to Interrupt Obsessive Gabbing about the War }
Robert Isenberg
illustration by Jean-Paul Manzanares

stop talking - robert isenberg"It's important in times of high emotional stress...to balance opendiscussion with normal daily activities.
- Dr. Barry Fischer, Psychologist


1. The weather: My, we're easing into spring. Do you think El Ninoactually went away?

2. Children: I don't have any, do you? If you did, what kind ofshoes would you buy them?

3. Cars: Mazda, huh. I've got a Ford. No complaints so far.

4. Entomology: How about that male Acteon Beetle of South America?Did you know its dimensions are 3.5" x 2"?

5. Those Vanilla Coke ads: Exactly, I hate commercials too, butthey're so clever. Don't you think they're clever?

6. Music: Never heard of that band.

7. Movies: Didn't see it. Is it in English?

8. Work: Really? Really? No kidding. No, what you do is really interesting, it's just I have to drive.

9. Long silences: Isn't that so funny? How people just stop talking, and then one person breaks the silence, and then everybody starts laughing and talking about it, and they start paying attention to the long silences, and these silences get uncomfortable. And each time you bring it up, you know it's not the first time you've heard the comment - or said the comment - but you say it like it's new, and everybody thinks about it, which leads to another uncomfortable silence, and somebody with gritted teeth looks for a new topic, any new topic. Yeah. Did you ever notice that?

10. Heirloom furniture: Do you like my couch/settee/oak desk? I actually inherited it from my father/mother/grandparent when s/he moved out/was put away/died.

11. Famous people: I think Jeanine Garofalo and I would make a great pair, don't you think? What was the article? And she said what? About the war? Can we change the subject?

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