During a recent visit, I was able to attend Meredith's holiday work party for the second year in a row. I was much less nervous this year, but everyone knows that the heartbeat of a holiday party is small talk, and small talk has never been my forte. If someone taught a class called, "Small Plates, Small Talk: How to appear engaged and interesting while eating passed hors d'oeuvres" I'd take it twice.
I feel like I've learned enough about the mental health field to make a few solid "processing" jokes, but after that I'm pretty lost. While Meredith was deep in conversation with a man wearing a beret (I knew I had nothing to add to that discussion), I started chatting with someone I didn't know by commenting on the pistachios in the cannolis. It played like really early Seinfeld to a person who clearly never enjoyed Seinfeld.
Later, when Mer came over to ask if we had met I said in all seriousness, "Yes, we talked about her cannolis."
It was my own personal, "I carried a watermelon" moment.
But I think this was my finest exchange of the night:
Meredith: Jess, Alex is a vet.
Me: Oh, wow! That's amazing. Thank you so much for your service.
Alex: Um... you're welcome.
Meredith: Jess, she's a veterinarian.
Me: Right. Well, thank you for your service to puppies.
If I had any sense at all, I would have let it lie there. Instead, I nodded thoughtfully and said, "So, cats in the military. Tell me more."