Is it true, nothing or kind?
This has been bugging me, as I am consciously excitable and enthusiastic about whatever it is I am doing so will voice my thoughts in search of the truth, hoping that what I';m saying isn't vacuous and as it is academic then there should be no question of whether it is 'kind' or not.
You pass a stranger walking the dog. You mention the weather, or football and you are immediately guilty of opening your mouth for no worthwhile purpose. Better to say, 'What a lovely dog you've got!' which is kind, more than nothing ... though whether it is true or not is open to debate (or undebateable).
You might say more than 'lovely weather we're having' and say 'that high has established itself and looks like giving us a long spell of settled sunshine' TRUE ... but you may be talking to a BBC weather presenter.
Say nothing at all?
Just smile kindly and let the person you pass on the path fill in the detail.
Pernickety about many things my late father considered all small talk a waste of breath; how are you, the weather, football ... though you could stop him in his self-indulgent thoughts by mentioning a kite you'd spotted. Each to their own.
'Lovely weather we're having' someone says to which you reply, 'and amazing cloud formations, have you noticed ... look, what does that one'.
Where does flirting fit into the pattern?
You whisper sweet nothings into her ear as you grin, cuddle closer and reciprocally place hands in places that hint of something more.
Is it kind?
That depend. If it is first date can you tell yet whether it will lead to fifty years of marriage, three kids, six grandkids and a mortgage?
Is it true?
'I love you' ?
Where's the truth in that? Your truth may be their ability to indulge you.
This works and reveals an unpleasant habit of mine to be snide - that the product surely of an absurd schooling that had me backed off to a 'boarding preparatory school' before my eighth birthday. For example, I got a call on my mobile while out in the car, saw it was my wife so pulled over as soon as I could - a bus stop. I missed the call. She's abroad with our daughter and my playful mind imagines someone has been knocked off a bike cycling aroung Paris. I can only think of one other place more dangerous to cycle: Rome. I try to call back. I've only had two texts in three days; as a family we're used to a stream of messaged requests and updates. Parked up fifteen minutes later to collect our son from a football trial I try again. No voicemail. Then a text comes through asking me to look something up on the Internet as they're having problems with wifi - they don't have any. I text back, then think twice and so something nice. It's like being in love again, when you only can and want to say good things.