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Hump Day: Beauty and Excess

You probably remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine's boyfriend has the tendency to speak in close proximity. You may be beautiful, but close-talkers are excessive and downright obnoxious. Learn the trusty forearm block from Maya Chendke.

Close-talkers. We all love them. And by love, I clearly mean “not love.”

When sober, they’re obnoxious at best. Say, for example, that person lacking interpersonal awareness or social cues. Pushing their ideas or desperation on you (often with a creepy grip on your arm).

“Listen to my pitch!” “Guess what happened to me this weekend?” “You will not believe what just went down in the boardroom…” It’s a young professional’s water cooler nightmare.

Close-talking is the perfect opportunity to lean in close to you and breathe in your life essence (or eau du toilette).

Get these close-talkers intoxicated, however, and your skin will start crawling in a jiff. I’ve had a few run-ins with close-talker guys trying to wheel game, and it’s usually great comedic material for spectators. Not such a great experience for the receiver. Close talking is not cool.

Take for example the slick-haired banker I met one night at Maison a while back. It was a classic friend-of-a-friend situation where you can’t use a swift forearm block (that’s just not polite, now, is it? We’re all buds here!). He seemed okay at first. We talked about cars and young professional miscellany. But I should’ve been on alert when he started leaning in to our conversation ever so much that I had to brace myself on my friend…while tilted at a 45-degree angle. (Another warning sign: when he tried to brag about his car, all the while quoting the horsepower and torque incorrectly). Seriously? We’re not all dumb dolls.

But the thing is that I felt so pressured by this close-talker, that it was the equivalent of being pepper sprayed into submission and I gave him my phone number. Fail one for me.

I actually had a recent memorable close-talker encounter a couple of weeks ago in New York. While grabbing dinner at Beauty and Essex, my table of gals was bought a round of drinks by the neighbouring table of gents. Sweet. Yet also unsolicited. Talk about a forced introduction! Cue close-talker dude (let’s call him Max). As he slithers up to my left side, I have to sacrifice my delightful vino tinto to thank him and field some “witty” banter. But this time, I learned my lesson and put up the forearm block in anticipation. Sure enough, close-talker Max tried to lean…but I kept my core muscles strong and held my ground! The moments of a first impression, especially in a dating scenario, are so critical. Who wants to put their creepiest foot forward and scare off a potential?

If you suffer from close-talker syndrome, don’t give up! Be aware of your leaning tendencies, and be sure to try back off if you notice someone squirming under your breath. You might enjoy vodka tonics, but not everyone else does. Perhaps you’re just excited to talk to the person, or are a jerk and want to force physical closeness. Either way, it makes you appear a tad too icky, and even the most compassionate of beings will find you obnoxious. I beg you – don’t be that guy or girl. Don’t be the close talker we’re all trying to escape. Most people are too polite, but I’m not. I’m sure you’ve got something delightfully eloquent and bright to share. But take three paces back…and make sure you know your own horsepower.

Maya Chendke