Conversation Struggles at The Bar

Sitting here at my favorite downtown Rock Falls bar on a Monday night, I only know one person of the eight that are here; and this person hasn’t heard my name in about 20 years – a little league baseball coach of mine.

Of course this is a great icebreaker. However, in instances such as this, my conversation skills don’t make it past the icebreaker. Basically I have nothing else to talk about other than a mediocre little league baseball season we don’t know much about. Because of this, our conversation would end there, and then I would struggle to find some other topic of conversation. When I get that feeling that I can’t find something else to talk about, I would wish him a good day and head back to my barstool in this mostly-empty bar.

I’m almost tempted to approach as I am leaving, that way I don’t have this embarassing dead period of aloneness. Question is, who leaves first?

I’m reminded of a book I once read, written by Larry King (of CNN fame): “How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere”. But when I last read it, about 3 years ago, I was rock solid shy. That is not the case today (refer to the woman in my previous Blog entry), as my mouth is starting to open up a little more. I wonder if reading that book one more time will help me this time around.

I’m on a never-ending quest to master the art of conversation, one of the lethal effects of the Autism I had no choice but to live with.

One band night at this same bar, I picked out a few people in the crowd and thought of things that I could break the I’ve with. I made it that far before the music destroyed my thought patterns.

I have a sensory issue (Autism-related) that makes me freeze when a room gets too loud. My voice isn’t loud enough, I can’t hear, and because I am failing at conversation I shake up and feel confused and lost. Even ordering a drink becomes a difficult task when a band is playing. I have a preset digital note on my phone that reads either “Pepsi,no ice” or “Do you have Not Your Fathers Root Beer?” All this because my voice cannot project over loud surroundings. All of this seems geeky, but I have no choice.

This past Saturday, I made the rounds between two RF bars. I met a few friends at one of them, and the loud music startled me and caused me to have bad, broken conversation. One of my friends asked me if I was drunk because I had a sensory shutdown in the middle of conversation. I wasn’t able to convince her that I had really had ZERO to drink, not even a pop, but my mental shutdown made her think I was drunk.

With that place too loud for comfort, I hopped next door, which was a little bearable – but there was maybe two people out of a hundred that I knew. One of which was a former Co-worker, and I had to wait until the place got quiet before I could think about conversation. I did get to talk to him, a little past 1 on our way out.

I like quiet nights because I can have a train of thought and actually make an attempt at conversation.

I still need a lot of work when it comes to band nights. Because I mentally shut down in front of everyone, the whole bar thinks I’m someone strange. I need to work on speaking louder and prolonging conversation.

My biggest issue is that I am REALLY struggling at prolonging conversation.