I know what you’re thinking. You want to ask me the question that thousands of others ask me on a daily basis: “What’s the fourth law of molecular physics?” When asked this, I try to be honest and explain that I know nothing about molecular physics. But instead, I usually just respond with a topic that I do know about: coffee.
“Coffee?!?” you might exclaim in both surprise and indignation as evidenced by two question marks and an exclamation point. But if that’s your reaction, I have to warn you that I don’t respond well to indignant questions, so ask nicely. At this point, if you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking better of your initial outburst. You’re probably thinking, “I’m terribly sorry. I meant no disrespect. Would you please tell me more about coffee?”
At this point in the conversation, I’m usually so touched by the heartfelt apology that I grant the request. Of course, for the sake of courtesy I like to start with small talk about the weather and similar mundane topics, building from there. Not only is this is a wonderful communication aid that helps us get to know each other better, it also piques your interest about the topic we all know to be coming: coffee.
Of course, by the time we finish chatting about the weather, I’ve usually succeeded in blending into the wallpaper, which enables me to slip quietly out of the house. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that coffee can be a very boring topic of conversation.