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Talking in Circles with Circle Talkers

What’s up?

It’s an easy question that should illicit a straightforward and immediate reply.

In fact, “not much” would be adequate enough, because that would mean that the conversation is now over and we can all move on with our lives with a sense of closure in regard to the initial inquiry into your present state of affairs.

Most normal people have no problem giving a direct response, and depending on the level of intimacy that the two people share, the context of the question being asked, and whether or not person A has to be someplace important, like, for instance, anywhere else, the exchange should take milliseconds.


“And then I got really really dizzy. I didn’t know what he was talking about, and it made me so mad and sad at the same time, and now I don’t know who I am anymore?”

On the other hand, it usually takes a circle-talker anywhere from 4 days to 30 years to reveal this information, while in the meantime, the asker is wandering around in a foggy, dream-like state, wondering whether or not they should check themselves into a ward to address a mental health issue that up until this conversation has gone undetected.

The truth is that it’s a filler question, and most people aren’t really that concerned.  So that means that definitely, without a doubt, the asker doesn’t give a flying Menendez about anything else being disclosed beyond the original question.

Let’s ask another question for the purpose of clarification:

What fucking part of that question did you not understand?

This is not Jeopardy, there is no hidden motive behind the question, and nobody asked for your personal conspiracy theory about the Iranian Hostage Situation.  Answer the fucking god damn question please, so that we can leave and get on with our lives knowing what exactly is up in yours.

Here’s how a conversation typically unfolds:

Healthy Person:  Hey, what’s up?

Circle Talker:  I tried calling you last week and you didn’t answer?

Healthy Person:  Oh, I’m sorry.  I completely forgot that you called.

Circle Talker:  Whenever somebody calls you on the phone you should have the common decency to call them back.

Healthy Person:  I’m terribly sorry, honestly.  But here we are!  Tell me what’s new in your life.

Circle Talker:  I pay too much for that phone, so you should check your voicemails once every so often.  Just wanted to let you know that.

Healthy Person:  I made a note.

Circle Talker:  Is that recycled paper that you’re taking your notes on?

Healthy Person:


I missed something here.

Having a conversation with a circle talker is like trying to pinch a loaf with a pair of rubber underwear on;  it’s unproductive, and it requires too much needless effort.

Somebody should sign a bill.  Semi trailers should be sent out across the U.S. to collect these people, and have them shipped off to a Kindergarten classroom and taught basic communication skills on a chalkboard before they cause any more distress to an otherwise high-functioning society.

So let’s have a circular conversation now about Circle Talkers.

We’ll start with a question:  What’s up?

Adam Final Author Box



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79 Comments on Talking in Circles with Circle Talkers

  1. *looks up* the sky. Not clever, but true.


  2. NotAPunkRocker // April 23, 2014 at 3:42 am //

    “What’s up?” I don’t know, what have you heard?


  3. Someone already chose the sky… damn it! By the way, did you know that the sky is really really blue today, and do you know what else is blue? Sorrow is blue. SORROW. Sorrow also rhymes with borrow. I think if someone borrows something from you, they should return it when you need it again. So where’s my Joan Crawford movie collection?


    • Holy shit. Let me sit down for a second while I think about cheese.


      • What rhymes with cheese? Hmm, let me see… Freeze, breeze… trees… fees, bees, niece… Oh, my niece! She is SO cute. Do you wanna see a photo of her? Where did I put it now again… Oh, yeah, right. I was going to buy the newspaper but then… *tells story about my whole day until now*


      • Are you a Queen fan? I have that song, Lily of the Valley in my head now, and I just spilled my beer..


  4. hahahahahaha – heard penn and teller once say, to get out of answering any question, simply respond to any question with, ‘that’s a great question, and how do you feel about it?’


  5. Oh MY GOD! I am so glad you asked. Things have been crazy lately! And there is just so much going on, I don’t even know where to start. Did that bird just hit that window? Sorry, got off track. Where was I? Oh yeah. Things have been crazy. Did I tell you my daughter had the flu last week and I am just lucky I am so healthy that I didn’t catch it. Hey, Kohls is having a sale tomorrow. I wonder if I have the ad at home. I need to make a list. Did you see what whatsherface was wearing earlier? Oh my GOD! Sorry, what was the question again??


  6. On a side note: I think Jack Tripper and I would be bros.


  7. I had the biggest crush on Jack Tripper.
    What’s up? Nothin’.


  8. Isn’t that funny? When people ask the regular old “What’s up?” or “How are you?” they don’t really want to know. They don’t want to know that you’re super gassy because you ate that bean enchilada for lunch when you should’ve known better and that you’ve had a crick in your neck for the last four days and could really use a massage but just can’t afford it.

    We ask these questions like we care but we really couldn’t give a shit and just want to hear “Fine, thanks, how are you?” To which, obvi, we must reply, “Great, thanks!” Even though in reality we’re miserable as fuck.

    Maybe instead of asking how people are or what’s up we should simply say, “I see you made it out of bed this morning – congratulations!” No question posed, so no opportunity for circle talking! (Although circle talkers usually find a way.)


    • It is funny! Everybody says it. It’s just one of those ice breakers that leads into the next ice breaker: “how you been?” Same procedure most likely. And a bean enchilada sounds delish by the way. Although, I like your idea. I like to test the waters with tmi – that always works.

      “What’s up?”
      “I’m having a surgical procedure done today that involves lots of lubrication.”


    • Hey, I’m bad at small talk, so it took me forever to figure that out. It got better when I figured out some snappy replies: “The sky!” “It’s going!” (for ‘how’s it going’) “Fair to partly cloudy.” “The usual, with a side order of fries.”

      Acquaintances might chuckle or give an equally benign “That’s good!” but my close friends will ask me how I *really* am.


  9. Were you just standing there or did you actually take a drink. It’s customary for people to drink at the water fountain. Oh and were you wearing your plastic panties because water can make you wet if it spills. Also they will keep you dry if you step outside and water happens to be falling out of the sky, like rain? Don’t look up though out someone asks you what’s up because it might get in your eye because your plastic panties won’t protect your eyes…*POP* my head just exploded.


  10. Fine! I’ll stop calling you, Chowderhead. You don’t have to be so mean about it. And, frankly, this all seems a little passive aggressive on you part, you…. you… Mayor Jerktown!


  11. Sometimes I get confused when people ask me questions like this, probably because of my overwhelming desire to escape the whole situation, and I will accidentally respond with a hearty “Thanks” or “You too!” So…Thanks!


    • Haha, done that before! Or how about when you get stuck between response options:

      Option 1. Not Much
      Option 2. Not a whole lot

      Response turns into:

      “Not a whole much”

      *headslap wtf*


  12. These people have serious attention problems, meaning, they need the attention. All of it. All of the time. My experience: Me – “What’s up?” Them – “Not much. How was your day? Wait, let me read every text message I sent and the responses for the next three hours.”



    • It’s so frustrating sometimes. I like to talk too much. I like when it means something, like, if I ask a question, FUCKing A answer it. Don’t spin me off like you’re Charles Manson talking about Ronald Reagon and purple dinosaur slippers and Kleenex..


  13. Chowder, you and I would get along famously. I am not a circle talker. If I see one, I just run or I hide. I like the idea of asking the question again and how they feel about it….no, that probably won’t work. On a side note, I do care how you are doing. What’s up, Buttercup? Just be wise, Bubble Eyes.That’s all you need to know.


  14. Sometimes, when people ask me what’s up, I’ll ask them if they want the quick, polite response, or to actually know what’s going on my life. This often makes them feel uncomfortable, and they’ll say they really want to know. Once I start in on how my shoulder has been acting up, they usually regret the politeness.


  15. I favour the “slightly off balance and totally unpredictable” approach.

    “What’s up?”

    “Why? What have you heard? Were you talking to that fucking Eugene from accounting? Did that bastard say something? First of all, all I said was that I knew he was the one using Terry’s I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Cream-Cheese on his bagels and just because it’s in the fridge, that does NOT make it communal property. Am I right? Am I right? Goddamn right I’m right.

    “But what does Eugene do? Who’s the little prissy pants that runs to HR saying that I threatened him? THREATENED him? Seriously? SO guess what? An hour later I’ve got Carl on the phone saying that I need to apologize or it’s going in my file and I’m like WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BULLSHIT? All I said was, if it’s not yours, DON’T EAT IT, right?

    “So I get sent home, right, on a half-day administrative leave – which is TOTAL fucking bullshit – so I figure, ‘Fine, you bastards, I’ll take the time off, but you can’t make me think about why I should be sorry,’ so I decide to use the time to take my car back to the dealership because it’s still making that stupid clunking noise, you know? They’ve had the bloody thing in there THREE FUCKING TIMES now and they keep telling me they can’t find anything, so this time I’m thinking there’s NO way I’m letting them give me the runaround. Try to tell me there nothing fucking wrong when I hear the goddamn clunking every time I make a right turn, I’M THE GUY DRIVING IT, RIGHT?

    “So I get there and the guy behind the desk is just giving me this LOOK, right? And I’m staring him down, thinking, ‘That’s right, you son of a bitch, BRING me the attitude, cuz it’s ON, baby. Shit just got real, and they TOTALLY don’t know who they’re fucking with and – hey, you sort of look like that guy, you know? Yeah, you do…you look EXACTLY like that guy!

    “Hey, come back!”

    Problem solved.


    • That was the most masterful comment ever posted on LAP. Would you be interested in a full time position at the offices here?


      • If we can tell Eugene that he has to keep his distance and you can guarantee the safety of my personal stock of I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Cream-Cheese that I keep on the second shelf of the office fridge, I’d say that your people should be talking to my people who would definitely talk back to your people. 🙂


  16. Reblogged this on Chowderhead and commented:

    I think I wrote this last year..?


  17. When people ask me how am I doing, or what’s up? I look at them all serious and say, you want the truth? Or should I lie? Usually shuts them right up. Because what are they going to do? Ask you to lie? ha! Course with my friends, yeah, they would ask me to lie. So maybe won’t work all the time. But hey, it was worth the shot, and, Hmmm, what were we talking about again?


  18. When I stop laughing I will try to come up with an intelligent comment.
    Grate Post!


  19. ‘Great’ too.


  20. I never did like that question when it’s used in passing, because my first reaction is to be honest and friendly, and neither of those are much appreciated.
    “What’s up?”
    “Nothing really, how are you?”
    “Uh. Good….?”
    [All said while passing one another in a supermarket aisle.]

    So I’m not quite a circle talker, but I’m not great with that question, either….


  21. I have a friend that is a classic circle talker, in that she picks three topics, and we spin around those babies for over an hour! I’ve stopped answering the phone in the evenings and I try to call her when I know I have the time…I use the cordless phone so I can keep working while she whines…(she ‘s also the type who only posts (usually long involved poor-me stories) on Facebook…It’s exhausting!!


    • Hi Jenn! (That sounded think hygiene..)

      My old man and I have not had a straight conversation about anything for as long as I’ve been alive. I love the man, but his convo skills I would like to drop kick, so I feel your pain. The Debbie Downer SNL skit came to mind as I was reading that haha:

      Waap waaaaaaaaaaa!


  22. I’m hard of hearing, and will often hear “Hello,” but not the “How are you?” Or maybe I’m just projecting, because I never say “how are you,” so maybe I’m blocking it out. Er, anywhooo… The person has said, “How are you?” and I say “Hello!” Then they give me a funny look because of my incomplete response.

    Occasionally, if I’m in motion when greeted, I’ll freeze in place, show a very guilty look, and say, “IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!” The more obvious/generic the action, the more likely I’ll do that. I’m pretty much the Random Weirdness person where I work.


    • Haha! Finally, we meet, Random Weirdness Person. I for sure gotta remember that title for the next time you stop by. Is it menieres, or heavy metal?


      • Ha! Neither! Otosclerosis FT– Wait, “win” doesn’t quite apply. FTL!

        Argh, then people will think “ooo, Faster Than Light!” Okay… NSFW? No Sound For… Huh? People think that means something else, too?

        Stupid internet!!


  23. The temperature! Finally. Oh, wait, that was yesterday. Today’s weather sucks.

    My hubby is a circle talker. Often I think it is a matter of him not actually hearing the question so he just starts talking until someone puts him on the right track. That is usually me. “That’s not what they asked you. Quit giving them too much information and answer the question they asked.”


    • Yes, yes! It’s like watching Mr. Magoo walking into traffic and having to steer him back to the sidewalk haha!

      “Hey! Hey, get over here, Magoo..hey! Stop, no, hey!”

      Ahhhh…gotta love a good go around on the conversation carousel..


  24. Response to “What’s up?” “Why do you care?”


  25. Next time you’re put in that position with a Circle Talker, just pause for a second and then ask them this question: “If you’re paddling upstream in a canoe and a wheel falls off, how many pancakes fit in a doghouse?” When they give you a puzzled look, just smile and tell them, “None. Ice cream doesn’t have bones, bitch.”


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