Wow, it’s great to see you! How have you been? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Why don’t you come inside and we can catch up on things? Please, come right on in and make yourself at home while I silently count down the seconds until you step back out that door and I close it firmly behind you.
Go on, tell me what you’ve been up to lately, and I’ll listen as patiently as I can while waiting to get back to all the things I’d rather be doing but can’t because you’re here talking to me.
Have a seat anywhere you like. I can’t wait to hear everything that’s going on with you, get through those stories as quickly as possible, and then walk you to your car so I can get on with my day. Really, how often do I get to have you over? I’m just happy you could stop by and fill me in on your life while I sit here thinking only about how long I’ll have to wait before I have the house to myself again.
Would you like anything to drink? Maybe a glass of water or some juice? I’m more than happy to grab you something from the kitchen, where I can look at the clock and privately lament the amount of time you’re probably going to spend here. No, really, I insist! Making sure your guests are happy and completely unaware that practically all your thoughts are focused on their departure is just part of being a good host.
Actually, you know what? Feel free to just help yourself to whatever you want from the fridge, as long as it gets you out of the room long enough for me to check how much time you’ve already been here on my phone, grow irritated when I consider that with each passing moment your visit becomes more and more of a nuisance, and then put on a smile again just as you’re returning.
As my guest, you deserve what appears to be my genuine hospitality.
After all, you’re the one who made the effort to come over to my place. You’re more than welcome to sit in my living room for minute after silently agonizing minute and talk about whatever’s on your mind as I grit my teeth and try to pretend this is exactly the way I want to be spending my free time. Besides, how often have you had me over? Enough that I now feel obligated to make small talk and devote all my mental energy to disguising how anxious I am for you to leave, that’s for sure.
When you’re under my roof, you can always depend on me to feign delight in your company and nod at the correct intervals throughout our exchange. And I’ll be sure to ask about your work and family purely as empty lead-up questions before I inquire, very casually, where you’re heading after you leave here, in the hope that there’s some place you need to be and that I’ll remind you of it, prompting you to make your exit.
You can also count on me to offer any number of pleasantries aimed at steering our interaction to a natural end point. For example, if you mention that you’ve had a tough morning, I’ll reply that I’m sorry to hear that, but I won’t dare ask what happened, how you’re handling it, or any other question that might prolong what already feels like an eternal discussion.
Honestly, anything you’d like to talk about—anything at all—I’m here to listen and respond with the minimum number of words that common courtesy allows, making no effort to keep this conversation from petering out.
What else are friends who would much rather be enjoying some time alone for?
Oh, is it time for you to go already? And here it seems you only just arrived a full hour and 17 minutes ago. Come back anytime, and I’ll be glad to feel the full, crushing weight of each passing second until I hear your engine start and watch your car pulling out of my driveway while I release a relieved sigh.
It really is the least I can do.