Oh, the art of avoiding answering direct questions. I find it thrilling, fascinating and exceedingly difficult.

Aside from answering a question with another question, and mastering the art of quick subject changes, it’s hard to know what say, other than Awkward Stuttering.

My goal is to eventually be able to pick and choose from a selection of responses that:

  • are not rude and not boring
  • do not actually share personal information
  • allow me to change the subject quickly and easily.

Not there yet. But I’m playing.

And I’m playing by messing around and inventing ridiculous answers — that I don’t actually currently have the balls to give — to my five least favorite questions.

Well, the five that don’t have to do with how come I’m not moving to Bolivia.

My five current Least Favorite Questions.

#5. What are you doing for [insert holiday]?

Of course people are just being polite and making conversation. It’s sweet.

The thing is, I don’t actually like most holidays. And I don’t want to talk about why. Or about my plans or lack thereof. So I get flustered.

#4. Where are you from?

Amna has already summed up why this is such a distressing question.

And a complicated one for me personally to answer, even without the leftover outsider complex from having had a foreign accent in every language that I speak.

#3. What’s your name?

Okay. I realize this one is a completely innocuous question.

But. I have a really unusual name. And at cafes — or wherever people ask for your name so they can yell it out to get your attention, I feel uncomfortable.

Especially with the “internet famous” thing. If 30,000 people are reading this, at least some of them are in Portland. Maintaining anonymity is a big deal for me.

#2. What do you do?

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Why should I have to know that? I’m doing it right now. It pays the bills, I have fun, why do I have to define it?

#1. People pay for that?

This question is more funny than annoying, since this blog supports our entire household.

But I hate the idea of my people being asked this when they’re still experimenting with figuring out their thing, before they’re in the position to find hostile questions laughable.

Anyway.

My goal is to be able to smile, take a breath, say something, and then ask a curious, interested question that allows for a change in subject. It’s my practice. But right now I’m just being silly.

Here we go.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving (or holiday of choice)?”

Giving thanks.

Jam.

Being exceptional.

Playing Twister.

Watching people eat pie.

Have you ever ridden in a hot air balloon?

“Where are you from?”

Here.

A pirate ship.

I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say.

“What’s your name?”

Singapore.

Valentine’s Day.

Harmonica.

Subliminal.

The Captain.

Surprise!

Blueberry.

Smurf.

Swoosh.

Twiglet.

“What do you do for a living?”

I play with dolls.

I wear costumes.

I talk to monsters. I collect monsters. I design monster choreographies.

I run a preschool. No, a secret preschool. No, a secret preschool for grownups.

I think about muffins. I’m a spy. I do things by proxy.

I have a secret benefactor. I am a secret benefactor. I like the word benefactor.

I whisper to plants. I am a product placement. I swim through air.

Do? I try not to do things.

I hide. I’m a professional hider. Yes, from things. But also hiding things from others.

I’m so sorry. I never tell anyone what I do.

I tell people about my dreams. Yes, they are very interesting dreams. No, I won’t tell you. That service is only available for paying customers.

I build castles. In the air.

I run away.

Oh, this and that.

“Do people pay you for that?”

There is only one answer to this that I know of, aside from laughing so hard you cry:

You’d be surprised.

And then you ask them what they’re doing for Thanksgiving. Kidding. But change the subject. Quickly.

And the not very zen comment zen for today.

We’re having fun today.

Anyone who is not capable of playing, or recommends resources for learning how to craft an elevator pitch, or variations on the tired “I help [target market X] [solve problem Y]” does not get to play.

I’m serious. Solving the problem is not the point. The point is play.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We take responsibility for our stuff. That’s what allows us to play.