Jennifer Hillier

Talk to me

Jun 5, 2009 | Uncategorized

Never has my dance card been so full.

And I must say, while it’s exciting to see friends and family and field numerous invites to barbecues and brunches and dinners, it’s also kind of surreal because this is SO NOT my real life.  Even when I lived in Toronto, I only saw my friends on weekends – and not every friend every weekend, but different friends maybe every other weekend. If that. Because everyone works and is busy (and I used to be, too).

But this week?   My social life is on steroids!  And I’m sure I’ll miss it when I get to back to the tranquility of my life in Seattle this weekend, and the phone stops ringing and people aren’t moving mountains to hang out with me anymore.

For now, though, I feel like I’m experiencing a kind of synopsis of my social life.  Everything condensed into just the important stuff, with no fluff, no filler.

Almost every conversation I’ve had this past week has been intense.  None of this “Such chilly temperatures for June!” bullshit.  There’s no time for small talk about the weather!  When I see my friends, we get right into the meat and potatoes of catching up.  It’s All Systems Go.  It’s stuff like:

“Do you still hate your job?”

“Your cosmetic surgery looks great!”

“Are the AA meetings helping?”

“Wow, you’re dating a white guy?”

“Your chest hair’s gone gray.”

“I just talked to my financial planner and I have this much money.”

“Your vagina’s bruised?  What the hell happened?”

“You bought a house?  Cool!  How much did you pay and when can I stay over?”

You think I’m kidding, but these are all snippets from actual conversations I’ve had this past week (and I won’t tell you whose vagina is bruised and how much I paid for my house, though I’m sure you’re dying to know).

And the weirdest thing occurred to me today.  These super intense, juiced up conversations are pretty much what you’d see in a novel.  Because when you’re reading a novel, there’s none of this crap:

Jenny: “Hey, long time. You look good.”

Friend: “You too. What’s up?”

Jenny: “Same shit. You?”

Friend: “Same.”

Jenny: “You okay? You seem a little tired.”

Friend: “Yeah, I’m not feeling too hot.”

Jenny: “I think there’s a bug going around.”

Friend: “Well, that’s not really it. I’m sore.”

Jenny: “Oh? How come?”

Friend: “I’ll tell you later.”

This is a typical real-life conversation, but it’s boring as hell to read, isn’t it?

In a novel, conversations must be devoid of filler and anything else not completely pertinent to the story.  Writers must create dialogue that sounds natural, but still gets right to the point, in order for it to be effective and not bore our readers to tears.

In a novel, conversations go like this:

Jenny: “Why are you grimacing?”

Friend: “My vagina’s bruised.”

I gotta admit, I’m enjoying the novel-like dialogue with my friends this week.  It’s amazing what time constraints can do.  We get so few face-to-face opportunities that when we’re finally blessed with them, we don’t fuck around.  I didn’t think we’d be able to condense six months’ worth of normal conversation into a few intense hours of discussion over dinner, but apparently it is possible.

Unfortunately, I know that once I get back to Seattle and the phone becomes my main source of communication, I’ll be going back to my usual, unedited conversations (thanks to an unlimited North American long-distance plan that allows us to talk about anything we want, for as long as we want).

And then it will no longer be appropriate to call up my friend and ask, without subtlety or preamble, “How’s your vagina doing today?”

Because no doubt she’ll tell me to fuck right off, then hang up on me.  As she should.