I despise “small talk.”
As a general rule, I strive desperately to avoid those awkward, one-dimensional conversations that spring up unwanted as I walk around campus, wait for a class to start —anywhere. Does the person I barely know anticipate a heartfelt, honest reply when he or she asks me “how are you today?” Does the person I know quite well expect anything better than time-passing drivel as we walk for just a few minutes to a building in which we have the same class, or, more frequently, to separate buildings? I just don’t get it.
That being said, there is one subject of small talk I willingly tolerate — the weather.
Far too many have rained on weather’s parade, and now nearly everyone considers it the most tedious, vacuous, and inconsequential of all conversational topics. But by reminding people how important the weather is, I hope to bring sunny days back into a positive light.
Weather unifies all mankind. Man views very few of his experiences in such similar, relatable terms. Though the weather entails different conditions in various regions and places, people everywhere know of “heat,” “cold,” “clouds,” “precipitation,” etc. The weather measures out to us both gift and curse, bestowing upon all of us a universal experience that transcends politics and culture. With the weather as an incipient conversational bond, even strangers can discover commonality.
Weather also serves as a tool of comparison and contrast. By what other standard besides the weather could man weigh the conditions of one day against its predecessors or successors? By Jove, entire weeks, months, seasons, years, decades — even centuries! — it lays side by side, showing man in terms of the history of nature herself, from Ice Ages and Medieval Warming periods to harvest seasons and monsoons.
Finally, weather is a profound humbling force. For despite the assurances of so-called “weathermen,” the weather acts however it pleases; whether through a pleasant breeze which plays upon the cheek, or a violent gust that rips homes from their very foundations. It is the organic manifestation of the servant who followed Roman generals, whispering into ears those words which too often men forget: “You are mortal.” What other force humbles man so?
For these reasons, and others as numerous as the raindrops in a thunderstorm, or the snowflakes in a blizzard, the weather deserves a better reputation. What other entity — God excepted — can so unite, assess, and humble the human race? None, I submit; rains are reins which reign over us all. So, by all means, let us talk about the weather. Even I shall speak of it gladly as I meander around campus, but may Jupiter’s lightning strike down anyone who asks me about my day.