Conversations we dread
Chefs, haircuts, lifts, galleries and more awkward chatter Discuss this article
10 Complicated restaurant orders
When did ordering breakfast get so difficult? All we want are some eggs, a slice of toast and a glass of juice or coffee. To earn the right for a bite the interview process is gruelling. Half a dozen types of bread, just as many egg styles and more caffeine than a Colombian police station will be offered up if you are not careful with your ordering. And buying a steak dinner in this city can be more complicated than graduating. Side orders, degrees of burn and sauces available must be carefully selected. When a meal out is closer to a quiz night, we just want to hold up a white flag and order a simple cheeseburger. That’s the burger with the Monterey Jack cheese, pickles, brioche bun with extra sesame seeds, chunky curly fries and a spicy salsa sauce on the side. Hold the mushrooms.
9 End of a haircut
For 20 minutes you watch a stylist carve the sort of haircut that would make a LEGO figure blush into our locks and you don’t say a word to stop the unfolding disaster. So, when they get to the end of the trim and you are shown the back of your head there is no chance of saying what you really think. In your mind, you want to say: “I am going to sue you for making me look like some sort of space chimp”. But all you can muster is: “Looks great, thanks” and then put on a hat.
8 Pressure gauge
The masseuse is tiny, surely they couldn’t hurt you. Don’t believe a word of it. The next time a spa treatment starts with a question about how much pressure you want in your massage, trust us, and take the easy option. You’re going to be punched in the back for half an hour unless you take control of this discussion fast.
7 Phone home
The weekly call to your parents, grandparents, siblings and anybody else you owe money to are becoming more difficult every week. They all want to know the same thing – when are you coming home? As hard as it is, tell them that THIS is your home now. They will be sad for a bit, then they will book a holiday and keep you out of your bed for a few weeks.
6 Anything in a lift
No, just no.
5 Personal trainer
You have eaten office cake three afternoons this week already and the furthest you have jogged is to the cheese room at brunch last weekend. When the trainer at your gym asks for an update, however, you need to cover up the truth and invent at least one mid-week triathlon, or you are making them feel useless as well as killing yourself with sloth and greed.
4 Paying a dinner bill
Whether you’re the sort of diner that just wants to split a bill equally or a receipt analyst who is going to forensically dissect the minutiae of the meal, it seems a shame to end a nice night out by discussing money. Follow one Time Outers lead by generously offering to pay for the entire bill at the start of the meal and then sneaking away before the dessert course arrives.
3 Neighbourhood chat
Forced proximity is rarely the platform for a fascinating chat. In a Jacuzzi, by the pool, squashed together on the public transport – whenever we’re thrust against people and expected to make polite chatter is when you find us mining conversational lows. In fact, if you happen to be the woman with the dramatic painted- on eyebrows who was sat with us on the bench tables in a Abu Dhabi café last week, we’d just like to apologise: we really did think you were asking us questions that whole time.
2 Is it art?
We love looking at pictures. We like talking about them afterwards. But you know what we don’t like? Feeling stupid because we don’t even understand the words people say when they talk about art in galleries.
1 Conference calls
The awkward pauses, wondering if you should say something or just sit quietly until everybody just goes away, gazing into space and thinking about a stack of pancakes – conversations are overrated at the best of times. Adding in the element of technology and doing it all on a computer screen doesn’t enhance the ordeal.
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