Yesterday I accompanied my three-year-old nephew, Jackson, to his swim lesson. The tyke was overly enthused to show me his skills and since my sister had to actually be part of the swim lesson for the younger nephew (the brute of the two of them), I agreed to watch Jackson and clap ecstatically whenever he did something “cool.” My overuse of this word, as well as “whatever” and “because society says so” have officially made their way into his vocabulary, and as far as the neighbors as concerned “because society says so,” is now the answer to every question.

At first it seemed like Jackson was the only one in his class, to which I was relieved because I’m not so great at clapping and cheering for three-year-olds who can put their face in the water, and I didn’t need or want an audience. However, about 10 minutes into his lesson a woman showed up with her kid who looked about 12 (although she claimed he was only four), and despite there being several chairs from which to choose, she sat herself next to me. I immediately went into “busy” mode which, in my world, means feverishly looking at my phone and sighing a bit. I could tell she was a “talker” from the get-go, so I figured in staying one step ahead of her by putting it out there that I was extremely important and didn’t have time to banter about the fucking weather or kids or swim trunks or the coffee price at Starbucks, she’d take a hint and ultimately take a hike. But the problem with hardcore talkers is that all they want to do is talk, and until you pull out the big guns, as I eventually had to do, they will not cease.

As one who does not care to talk to strangers pretty much ever, (unless I’m drunk and I’ve just realized that the stranger is obviously my soulmate), I have mastered ways in which to keep people from getting all up in my grill when I just want to be left alone. Here are seven foolproof ways to get some random stranger to quit chatting your ear off. Unless you’re dealing with someone who is so clueless and so hard-up for chatter as the woman next to me was yesterday, all of these, if used appropriately, should send them packing. If not, slide seven (the “big guns”) will always win — as it did for me yesterday.


Photo: StickyComics