Tea time should be for everyone

I was thinking about whether to organize my Sunday tea parties along
conversational themes, carefully scheduling guests to ensure an
amicable mix. But something doesn’t feel quite right about that, not
for my Sunday tea parties. I want my Sunday teas to be an open
drop-in-if-you’re-in-the-neighborhood-or-even-make-a-trip-out-just-for-it
kind of thing. No need to call. No need to check the Internet to see
what my schedule is or think about who the other guests are. Just come
and enjoy assorted teas, juices, chocolates, light snacks, and
conversations.

I haven’t quite figured out what I want that tea time to be, but I
think that I’m getting closer to it. This openness presents certain
challenges. I don’t know how many people will show up, which makes it
a good exercise in learning how to scale up or down as needed. A far
larger challenge, however, is conversation. Maybe we can treat it as
practice in social graces. ;)

I am a geek, and as a geek, I meet mostly other geeks as well. Many
geeks—myself included—often have a hard time with small talk,
starting conversations with people whom they know little about or with
whom they don’t have an immediately obvious common interest. This is a
pity, and this is something I’d like to work on and help other people
practice.

As a host, I get uncomfortable when even one person is feeling left
out, or when there are no pauses or questions in the conversation to
invite shyer people to contribute.

We might not necessarily connect and become friends with everyone we
meet, but we should certainly be able to draw out people who want to
converse, and to share a bit of ourselves as well. I feel strongly
that the adept conversationalist should be able to relate to both
2-year-olds and 92-year-olds. Diversity reveals deficiencies. If you
find yourself unable to talk about anything but computers, you’ll know
that you need to experience more!

Deep talk is not taboo. You’re certainly welcome to enter into a side
conversation about the meaning of life. I’d love it if you ended up
continuing the conversation over dinner (which I might even join after
I wash up) or another get-together. If I can figure out how to set up
other focal points, that would be even cooler.

Dropping out of the conversations and playing Scrabble or Boggle would
also be fine by me. If I can find a nice set of shadowbox-type
shelves, then I might even start collecting geek puzzles. We sometimes
need time to recharge socially, after all.

What about a time for deeper conversation or a carefully-chosen mix of
guests? If you want a specialized conversation salon where we can
discuss, say, really really geeky jokes, then we can organize one –
but not during Sunday tea time. Sunday tea is for everyone.

I can improve a few things, though. The layout of a room affects the
conversations in it. Right now, the white coffee table is my only
focal point, which naturally results in one major conversation. When
the weather warms up a bit more, people will be able to stay on the
balcony. I need to make more use of the corners of my room, though.
Maybe small mats and a few more cushions will give people permission
to multithread conversations…

I am so glad I didn’t go with chairs, which would have been harder to
rearrange.

Hmm. What about a small drop-leaf table mounted on the wall? That
would be a fixed focal point. A low table or tray with cushions placed
invitingly around it? I might have space for another cluster of four
if I move things around and get rid of all the stuff near my walls.
Maybe a corner mat would be a flexible way to do it.

I like thinking about how structure affects flow. The structure of the
room, the structure of the event… Ah!

Random Emacs symbol: view-hello-file – Command: Display the HELLO file which list up many languages and characters.