It is common knowledge that speaking about the weather is a safe ice breaker when meeting any new person, simply because it is unlikely to offend anyone and everyone has something to say about it.
However, my parents, despite knowing me for almost 30 years, still start every phone conversation by telling me about the weather. It is fascinating.
With all the technology now available to us, I find it puzzling that I am still asked “so, what’s the weather like in Sydney?” every time I call.
What I really want to say is “Listen. I am calling you from Australia. I live in a big exciting city, I study, I work, I meet new people every day, isn’t there something else you’d like to ask me? Why don’t you type ‘Sydney weather’ into Google before I call?”
But of course, you can’t speak to your parents like that. They have given you their lives and patiently raised you, so even 29 years later, you politely report on the weather.
Technically this conversation wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t return the question. In passive-aggressive protest I have however decided years ago that I will not ask them back – and it kills them.
Once I have answered their question about the weather, I can hear the shivering desperation on the other line. I can sense their shaking hands, lip biting, sweat running down their foreheads. If they can’t tell me about all the temperature fluctuations, the humidity levels and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) it is to sleep in this weather, they will explode. But I stay strong. I will not let them have it. I will not waste precious lifetime discussing the weather with my parents. So I try to change the subject.
But here’s the thing. If my parents want to speak about the weather, they will coerce me into it any way they can. I’d like to share with you a typical conversation, dearest reader.
Me: So, how have you been?
Parent (doesn’t matter which): Well, let me tell you, I’m just dying in this heat!
Me: Oh really? Have you been to the beach lately?
Parent: Well, we have to go to the beach to get out of this heat! It’s unbearable inside the house. You know it gets much hotter here in the valley area than down at the coast.
Me: Yes. So how is [random neighbour]?
Parent: He is devastated. Last year at this time it was raining and all the vegetables were growing, but this year there has been no rain and all the tomatoes are just frying in the sun. You know, tomatoes can’t grow in 38 degrees! That’s how hot it’s been!
Me: This is certainly true. How’s grandma?
Parent: Oh you know, with all this humidity her joints are aching. But it’s alright because we’ve installed a fan in her bedroom so she can get a good rest although it’s still like 25 degrees at night!
Me: That’s nice. How’s work?
[Note: Now I tricked them – here is the perfect temptation to complain about the government and ‘the crisis’ instead of the weather]
Parent (skillfully): Let me tell you, if there’s anything that has gotten worse than the heat in the last 5 years, it’s this crisis!
I rest my case.