We went to see Up today (as part of the not-thinking-about-the-SAT exercise; it worked- right up until we walked out of the theater). It was extremely well made, on more than one level. They knew the power of a picture (it's worth a thousand words, after all), and they used it. The animation (art, in my opinion, but some may disagree and it is a democracy) was excellent. They did a good job of making it seem real and beautiful at the same time. They managed to give it a BELIEVABLE happy ending. The characters were real: the kid talked like a kid, the old man talked like an old man (the Teacher's favorite quote: "It's not my concern!"), and the dog talked like a dog (my favorite quote: "Be my prisoner! Oh, please, oh please be my prisoner!" and also "Squirrel!")
Which brings me to my topic. Distraction is an art. With some people, it's a more subtle art. I have an aunt who is not a subtle person and if you want to tell her something, you have to say it in literally so many words. Not always a good thing. But for other people, distraction consists of more than pointing in the opposite direction and shouting "Squirrel!" Although I don't know, it might work with an unprepared audience and the right tone of voice.
I wouldn't be talking about this at all, except that the Teacher informed me that she is already on to me, and is well aware of what I do and why I do it. In fact, she's the one who suggested this post. Since she's already aware of what I do, I might as well give some pointers for the rest of you out there.
Take notes. You can only distract people from one thing at a time. You can TRY to distract them from more than one thing, but that isn't usually sustainable for very long. And then you're in trouble. So decide on your priority- would you rather clean the bathroom or spend six hours watching a drooling baby who will scream at you for not being Mama? Decide, and act accordingly.
Observe the enemy. You think I'm joking, but think about it. How often do they say "Speaking of which" or "That reminds me of"? Pay attention. Learn what reminds them of what. Avoid those subjects when engaged in active distraction.
Be prepared for casualties. You thought I was joking about the choice between the baby and the bathroom? I wasn't. Be prepared to sacrifice for your goal.
Wait for it. I mean it. Do not take a hundred and eighty degree turn in a conversation about babysitting. (Gee, can you tell that I maybe don't like babysitting?) It is not distracting. It doesn't just tip your hand, it throws away the cards. You're in for it now.
Be casual. Hyperventilating is a dead giveaway. Really.
Choose an attractive bait. There has to be some hobby horse they're on. Find out what it is. Let it out of the corral. If they're a wine snob and you really don't want to talk about, say, etiquette, then say that you're having a small dinner for your in-laws (establish mutual sympathy here by implication if not outright statement; you're allowed to love your in-laws; most people don't) and would like some advice for choosing a wine. Describe the menu in detail, and then ask encouraging questions until you have to break it off (regretfully, of course) because you're late for something. Because wine and etiquette are at least cousins, it won't seem like an abrupt change of course, and if it's engrossing enough to them they probably won't realize that they're talking about the wrong subject. This example won't work for you if you're Mormon or otherwise abstaining from alcohol, but the strategy always does.
Figure it out. What, you expect me to give away all my secrets? You might live in a democracy, but I don't. I have to get my way by subterfuge and soft speaking. And the Teacher reads this blog. You're smart. Figure it out.