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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 10.18.10
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

You schmooze, you lose

"Hello, welcome to SchmoozeTech, this is Randy, how may I help you?"

"Uh, yeah, hi. I think my schmoozing account has been frozen. Can you check it out for me?"

"Sure, sir, no problem. Let's just call up your account information... Hmmm, I see. Well, Mr. Murray, it looks like your licence to schmooze has been suspended."

"What? How? I've really been making an effort lately. I've been chit-chatting at parties instead of hanging out by the veggies and dip. I've been making eye contact. Last week, I was at a press event and I was greeting reporters and shaking hands..."

"Let's see. Was that last Wednesday, sir?"

"Yeah."

"Well, it says here you went up to a reporter and said, "Bonjour, Jean-François. It's been a long time," but you said it in French so it came out sounding like, "Bonjour, Jean-François. It's been long johns."

"My French isn't that great but at least I was trying."

"That's fine, but it wasn't Jean-François at all, was it?"

"No..."

"It was a newspaper columnist who you recognized from his photo in the paper."

"It was an honest mistake."

"You've never actually met this person, have you?"

"He looked so familiar!"

"And then you fled to the hors d'oeuvres."

"It was embarrassing!"

"Mr. Murray, I'm looking at your account history and I'm seeing multiple instances of awkward and inappropriate schmoozing."

"It's not my fault. Small talk is so hard!"

"The anecdote about the baked beans and airport security?"

"It was a good story."

"At a funeral reception?"

"I was just trying to lighten the mood."

"It says here there was food in your teeth the whole time."

"Hey, someone should have told me about that."

"In June 2010, you recited an entire Monty Python sketch to co-workers at an office birthday celebration."

"Everybody loves Monty Python!"

"And you got it wrong."

"I did?"

"On August 14, you called someone you had only recently met by their nickname, even though you had not yet been deemed nickname-worthy."

"How on earth are you supposed to know when that is?"

"You got the nickname wrong too."

"Seriously?"

"A muffed high-five on August 29, over-imbibing at a church function on September 6, an unfortunate trouser stain on September 15. Plus, your file has multiple accounts of you wandering up to groups of people and just standing there on the fringes waiting to join the conversation and then simply drifting off again, adding nothing to the proceedings but your own unsettling ghost-like presence."

"In my defence, I consider myself a very good listener."

"An 'observer of the human condition,' you've described yourself here in your file."

"That's right."

"At SchmoozeTech, we call that a 'loser.'"

"Honestly!"

"Tell me about your chronic inability to master the double-cheek kiss."

"Look, I've been studying that. Most of the time people go to the right cheek first. I thought I had it figured out. But sometimes they go to the left. How are you supposed to know?"

"How many broken noses, sir?"

"[Sigh...] seven..."

"Bottom line, sir, is that your inept socializing skills have drained your schmoozing account."

"But what can I do? I've got a big social schedule coming up: weddings, receptions, court depositions..."

"Well, I can issue you a temporary schmoozing licence, conditional on your improving your schmoozing skills."

"How do I do that?"

"You can start by watching more sports. And keep up on celebrity gossip. For example, Katy Perry."

"You mean Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey?"

"No."

"Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith?"

"No."

"Mathew Perry from 'Friends'? Refrigerator Perry?"

"No."

"Halle Berry?"

"Sure, why not. Anyway, you're all set, Mr. Murray. I've activated your temporary account. Good luck."

"Thanks. Hey, by the way, don't you think Halle Berry would be awesome at second base for the Red Sox, especially since she reminds me of my first girlfriend... well, not my actual girlfriend, since she didn't realize she was my girlfriend at the time but I kept sending her letters anyway, but don't you think?"

"Hmmm... awkward...."

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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