Things That A Senior Colleague Could Have Said To You Other Than ‘I Like Your Summer Outfit’ When You Ran Into Him

‘God, what would things be that are not related to your clothing?’

Location: a coffee shop, summer break

How’s your work going?

I hope you’re just grand.

How is your summer?

It’s lovely out today. We are enjoying such fine weather.

And the roads are in very good shape. Dry.

That’s what people talk about in Jane Austen. The weather and the roads.

You getting coffee? I recommend the coffee here.

Going on any trips?

Read anything riveting?

I just read this thing about wombats and how great they are. They are a fucking revelation.

Did I say that it’s nice out? Because it is.

Did you get coffee or tea? Or some other hot beverage? Did I already ask?

Seen any movies like Wonder Woman or other malarkey?

Do they have biscotti here?

They may not, but I think they have quiche.

And croissants.

Did you get coffee? It’s so good here. The coffee.

I think I left the oven on.

How are your kids doing? Oh, right. No kids. Anyway. I just assume that human adults have kids.

Ah, summer.

Hope you’re kicking back! But also working because, you know: capitalist mandate to work and see that as a virtue.


The line here is always so long. It doesn’t even seem like that many people live in this city.


Whom would you want to be your Amazing Race partner?

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Who is your favorite person to follow on Instagram?

I got those last three questions from an article about how to make small talk with people. I don’t even know if The Amazing Race is still on.

But I am on Instagram.

No, I’m not. I don’t know why I said that.

I probably didn’t leave the oven on. I wouldn’t have done that.

At any rate, how are things that are not related to your clothing going?

Anything in that department?

God, what would things be that are not related to your clothing?

No idea. Mystery.

I’m thinking.




Still thinking.

Ack! Existential question.


I’m hitting a wall here.

Ha, ha!

I laugh when I’m uncomfortable but don’t want to acknowledge it. Which is the only way to be uncomfortable in life.


Yes, so.

“So” is the first word of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, by the way. Did you know that?

Those wombats are still stuck in my head. Because they are so goddamn cute.

Why are they so cute?

And why don’t we have more wombats here in the U.S.? That seems like a problem that should be remedied.

Note: get more wombats.

Done anything entrepreneurial lately that the university would value?

Are you looking forward to the start of classes?

Maybe that was a dumb question since summer is so great.

Who would ever want it to end?

No one, I say.

I’m just trying to think about other things to say to your head.

I’m thinking.




Gone on any trips? God, I already said that, didn’t I?

I’m looking forward to the start of the year. Are you?

We’re enjoying very fine weather.

And the roads are dry.

When you think about the phrase “small talk,” it starts to seem really strange. I mean, why “small”? Can talk be small?

I should probably mow my lawn before the neighbors get mad.

I have gotten behind on that.

Any new projects in the works? New ideas in your brainpan?

Did you get coffee?

Or maybe you said tea.

Or a croissant?


Let’s circle back around to those wombats, shall we?

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