As you might be aware, I work from home and my main company for most of the day are four adorable but malodorous pugs. Among other things, this has had the effect of making my already suspect social skills into something approaching shut-in level.

As we head into Xmas party season, this is a cause for concern. What do educated and witty professionals talk about at social events nowadays? I’m going to hazard a guess that it is not my number-one area of expertise: dog poop.

I don’t mean to talk about dog poop, but there I am – every day – dragging the topic back around. Look, I know it’s weird, but not that weird. I have four dogs. I pick up a lot of poop. You can’t help to think about it…and, if you’re an overthinker with no one else to talk to for long stretches of the day, you can’t help to overthink it.

As we head into winter, the leaves fall from the trees and cover our yard. Why are leaves and poop the same color and roughly the same shape? Why does a leaf lying on my carpet look, at the same time, like dog poop and a dead bug? Where is the evolutionary benefit for any of this?

I could go on. 

But you see my point. I need to come up with some alternative topics of conversation before my work Xmas party. The two Big Bosses are flying in, as is my new immediate superior. I might need a book of modern etiquette.

It’s a minefield: religion is out; I don’t want to spend the whole night going over every ridiculous facet of this country’s current politic “situation”; the American idea of what constitutes a “sport” is very different to mine; I can never remember the names of the books or movies I’ve enjoyed this year.

So, I guess I’ll do what I always do: fill my plate, fill my glass, and hide behind my wife.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to fall back on my personal area of expertise. And no one wants that.

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