Reader Clare sent me ten questions to ask instead of asking of “So when are you having kids?” and it got me thinking. I mean, I have a lot of thoughts on how to answer that pain in the ass question, but first, let’s just consider that maybe we can be part of the solution and stop asking that question. I mean, if this many people are sick of hearing the question, that means that a lot of people still think it’s OK to ask it! And it’s not. It’s just too personal and really none of your business.
And the thing is, that’s just not an interesting question either. How much good conversation is going to come from that question?
[First person asks person/couple she hasn't seen in a year when they are getting engaged or married.]
[First person responds with something judgmental/prying or explains why your plans are wrong.]
[First person explains why she knows better.]
I mean, seriously, how the fuck do you want that conversation to end?
And by asking that, you’re now the least fun person to talk to at the party. You’ve left the other person feeling worse, or at least annoyed…and when making small talk, wouldn’t it be nice to leave the other person feeling better? Or at least just indifferent?!
Here are some questions to ask instead!
(Keep in mind that as a former sorority recruitment chair, good getting-to-know-you/small talk questions are my forte. Our goal was to never let the conversation die, so that’s why I have one question followed by several more follow-up questions that totally seem cheesy on paper but are exactly why I’m fun to talk to at parties.)
So, have you taken any vacations this year? Do you have any planned? What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken? What is your dream vacation?
Do you guys follow any sports teams together? Oh, your teams are rivals? That must make for some crazy game days! I bet you guys have some stories… Oh, she doesn’t care about sports? I’m the same way! Do you have any good advice on how to handle game days?
So the other night, I cooked a new recipe and it was a total disaster…are you a good cook? Who does the cooking for you two?
I keep wanting to try [insert adventurous food or restaurant here]. Are you an adventurous eater?
Do you guys follow any shows together? We love “Franklin & Bash.” Hell, yeah, Mark-Paul Gosselaar! “Saved by the Bell” was my favorite show too! What other shows did you watch growing up? Did you know Nickelodeon just put old-school 90s Nick back on TV? Yeah, we totally DVRd “Doug” last night!
I can’t get “Ice Ice Baby” out of my head…yeah, we were playing it at work today. Well, my boss didn’t immediately get a “Stop! Collaborate and listen…” reference. Don’t you think there are just some songs that all the lyrics should be required knowledge!?
So are you a summer person enjoying this heat? What is the most fun thing you have done this summer? Oh, you’re a winter person? Me too! What is your favorite thing about winter?
OK, would you rather give up cheese for a year…or give up oral sex for a year?
Just kidding on that last one. Kind of. It’s a little out there, but somehow it’s not more personal than “When are you getting engaged?”
One more thing to keep in mind: if the person wants you to know when he or she plans to wed, he or she will volunteer the info. “Oh, we haven’t taken any vacations this year because I’m saving up for a ring.”“Work is great! I love the company and we are thinking about buying a house in the area in the next couple years because we plan to be there for a while.”
But otherwise, sorry — you just don’t get to know the private details of every couple out there! You’re going to have to wait to find out via Facebook just like the rest of us.