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Look who's (not) talking

As you know, I'm a self-declared band geek. I played all through high school and college, and fifteen years after graduating from college, I still play my clarinet with a community band. And it's fun!

The rehearsal site is about 20-25 minutes from home, and a few months ago another band member emailed me to see if I'd be interested in carpooling. He lives in a nearby retirement community, and he's probably in his mid- to late-70's. J.P. calls him my "band boyfriend." We take turns driving, and the arrangement has worked out well . . . mostly.

Last week I picked him up, and we exchanged the usual pleasantries . . . how was your week, etc. And then? Nothing. We weren't even on the highway when we ran out of things to talk about. I made a lame attempt at bringing up the weather, but that topic died after just a few sentences.

As I drove along, I wracked my brain for things to talk about. After a minute or so of this, I felt my body tensing up with the uncomfortable silence. Finally I realized that he had just as much responsibility to keep the conversation going as I did, and he didn't seem to care. So why should I? But I do care!

I can only ask him about his clarinet so many times. He has two, by the way, and one of them was in the shop but is now fixed. And he once took all the keys off and had to figure out how to get them back on. And one time? He made a lamp from an old clarinet. Yeah, the clarinet topic has pretty much been exhausted.

Tonight I get to do it all over again. Do you have any suggestions for me?
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