My previous post mentioned Mr Thingamajig, the animated American idiom generator who can really talk your ear off. The funniest thing is that he does mimic a stereotype of the endlessly talking American.
Is it a true stereotype? Well, we don’t ALL talk as frequently as Mr. Thingamajig, but in comparison to some cultures…we sure do gab a lot.
An American at Breakfast
In fact, since you’re here….let me tell you a story.
At one point, I was lucky enough to live in a dorm in Wales with students from Europe and America. I don’t actually consider myself a great talker (e.g. I don’t do airplane conversations and will use headphones when necessary).
On the other hand, I was trained that if you are eating at the same table with someone you are morally obligated to attempt small talk (it’s rude to eat in silence). This applies even at breakfast, especially at a conference.
But when I performed my small talk duties at breaksfast, I noticed my European colleagues would answer, but then get the most delicate of frowns (more like a slight squint). The more questions I asked, the deeper the furrow in the brow. What to do? Apparently the answer was to SHUT UP ALREADY.
I discovered the great truth that many Europeans do not require small talk at breakfast (it is rather early after all). I was off the hook! I could just munch my cereal quietly and absorb the morning vibe. What a treat, but still a little strange. Who knew I could chatter so much in the first place?
A few days later at dinner, I noticed that the conversation lapsed and there was complete silence. Sure enough after about 30 seconds, a fellow U.S. citizen asked another question and conversation began again. I guess you can’t keep a good small-talker down.