Rules of the Ronvo

26 Sep

Over the weekend, I had a “ronvo. (A repeated “convo”…which stands for “conversation.” So a “repeated conversation.”)

You know those conversations that you have with people, during which you think to yourself, Hmmm, Rhonda has told me about her best friend’s Toy Poodle’s hemorrhoids like, seven times. Do I nod along or interject?

Of course you know what I’m talking about. Everyone has a friend name Rhonda whose best friend’s dog has hemorrhoids.

Everyone has also had a ronvo.

In the most technical of terms, a “ronvo” is a conversation – or a slew of conversation topics – that just won’t effing go away. For one reason or another, either you or your conversation partner doesn’t remember having already told certain stories or having already listened to certain stories. And so, you have an identical conversation to one you’ve had maybe once, but probably eight-dozen, times before.

My ronvo took place at the hairdresser.

Let me preface this by saying that my hairdresser – whom I shall call “Murray” – is a wonderful hairdresser. (Although maybe he’s a “barber,” since he’s male? I’m not sure how that works.) I’ve been seeing him regularly for four years, and, according to my grandmother, he “really understands the workings of my hair”…which is the closest I’ve ever come to having a man understand me, so I highly value this relationship.

He also makes my mane feel less like a shag carpet and more like the hairdo of a celebrity who’s stepping out to run errands at CVS. (Oh, I’m sorry, Duane Reed.) So again, I value this relationship.

When I paid Murray a visit this weekend, though, I felt like I was trapped in the Groundhog Day of salon visits.

“Didn’t you go somewhere in the last year?” he asked me as I sat down in the chair.

(Ah yes, your classic, “haven’t you gone somewhere or done something in the last year” opening line. Just vague enough to work.)

“Yes, actually, I was in Geneva last semester!” I replied, enthusiastically.

I waited the requisite beat of time to see if Murray’s memory would spark a follow-up comment like, “Oh right, you told me when you came here in June that you worked at the UN,” or “Of course, and you once ate so much cheese you had a knot in your stomach for twelve days and had to be airlifted to a nearby cow farm!” (One of those statements is 50% true…)

But no. Apparently, I am not the only one in Murray’s world. Apparently Murray had no recollection of my life’s happenings.

So, we discussed it all. Again. In detail.

He asked the same questions, and I told the same stories.

(My hair was so long that I even had time to re-tell the cheese-eating story. In the time it took me to re-spin such a classic tale, I could have delivered a cow by C-section, watched it grow, milked it, and churned milk into cheese…by hand.)

When it became clear that Murray hadn’t retained anything I’d told him during my last visit, I thought he’d at least remember things that he had already told me.

That was not the case.

So, I listened to the same stories I’d heard the last three times I’d gone to the salon, and worried that at some point, Murray would realize the repetitive nature of our conversation and become embarrassed. (He did not.)

In thinking about my ronvo with Murray, I came to a few conclusions about ronvos…which led me to outline a few rules that must be kept in mind if one is about to embark on a ronvo.

Here’s what I came up with:

Rule #1: Don’t Throw Hair

The key to a ronvo is to go to great lengths to not embarrass the ronvo-inciter. For example, when Murray asked me if my mom had “dropped me off at the salon,” I could have had a hearty chuckle, reminded him that I am a BU student who has lived AT BU for the last FOUR YEARS, and thrown a detached chunk of hair in his face.

But, that would have been embarrassing for him.

Plus, you know what they say: people who live in flaming houses should not throw hair because burning hair smells like crap. (I think I read that on a Snapple bottle once.)

So there you have it. Avoid embarrassing the person making the mistakes. Otherwise, you could come out with a Les Mis pixie cut and a scalp full of bleach. (I think those potential consequences apply to any situation. You never know who walks around wielding scissors and bleach.)

Rule #2: Don’t Reveal Your Expertise

During a ronvo, it’s likely that you will remember every significant detail about your conversation partner’s life.

For example, I know all about Murray’s son’s job as a theater technician, his daughter’s trip to Tahiti, and that time he made a wonderful short rib meal for his in-laws.

But should I ever voice this knowledge?

No. Suppress all knowledge.

This might be hard for us Type A personalities, but trust me, you do NOT want to be that ronvo-er who stops your hairdresser mid-sentence because you’ve already heard about that time he flew to Croatia for a week and got a hearty dose of parasite in his intestines. Instead of saying, “Oh, and you could only eat broth for weeks and you lost seventy five pounds, right?” simply nod and say “Wow, Croatia! How was that?”

Admitting to already knowing intimate details about your counterpart’s life is surely going to leave him/her feeling embarrassed for re-telling intimate stories. (See Rule #1.)

Plus, who doesn’t love to re-hear a good short rib story?

Vegetarians, that’s who.

Rule #3: Do not be a vegetarian because you never know when a third-round short rib story is coming your way.

Just kidding. Be vegetarian. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rule #4: The “Nod Mhhmm” is your best friend

If you come to a particularly awkward portion of a Ronvo, never, ever underestimate the power of the “Nod Mhhmm”:

“So you’re studying Art History, right, Sophie?”

“Oh, actually I’m studying International…”

“Of course, you’re a math major! How could I forget!”

*Sophie nods, then says “Mhhmm.”

In the above example, I was poised to answer a question that was answered for me before I could form a sentence. This is a special type of ronvo, during which the weaker member of the conversation assumes the position of the dominant converser. Instead of correcting him/her after he/she has already put words in your mouth, simply nod and say “mhhmm.”

(It also doesn’t hurt to pick a hangnail or pretend to be engrossed in a mole on your palm.)

Remaining calm and incorrectly answering questions about your own life may not seem like the best long-term strategy, but trust me, in the short-term, avoiding awkward corrections is crucial. (Especially when you’re having your hair cut – ain’t nobody got the time or insurance to take an “accidental scissor” to the ear.)

*Rule #5 (Specific to Hairdressers): If you can’t be heard over the din of the hair dryer, just shut up

This last rule doesn’t apply exclusively to ronvos, but is an excellent rule to keep in mind whilst having your hair cut.

There will come a time during your haircut when the hairdresser will try to ask you questions. He/she will pose the question, and then will turn on the hairdryer.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m never sure what to do when this happens. It’s like when you go to the dentist and the dentist asks you something really profound, like “Where do you see yourself in the next ten years,” or “do you fear oblivion?” and then proceeds to stick a giant “Laughing Wand” (yes, I still go to the pediatric dentist) into your mouth!

Are you expected to answer coherently? Are you – as the requisite twenty-one-year old in the office – expected to provide your dentist with his daily dose of stimulating adult conversation? That’s a lot of responsibility for someone who isn’t even responsible enough to contact a dentist for grown ass adults!

When Murray turned on the hairdryer last weekend, I was just starting to tell him about my time in Turkey. Realizing that what I was about to say had some conversation potential, Murray abruptly turned off the hair dryer…which left me practically shouting the words “SO much meat on a stick!” to the entire salon.

So, then again, maybe we should re-think Rule #4…maybe being a vegetarian is the key to avoiding lewd, obnoxiously loud meat comments.

Anyway, this weekend, when you have a repeated conversation with your hairdresser, or your dog walker, or that guy at 7/11 who thinks of you as “Sunday Morning Jerkey Girl,” shut your mouth, nod your head, and find a worthy mole on your palm because you, my friend, are being ronvoed.



4 Responses to “Rules of the Ronvo”

  1. kbeck13 October 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Too funny!

    The “Don’t Reveal Your Expertise” is spot on. I’ve gone so far as to even say, “Yeah, I think you told me about that” and still they have carried on with their story. It’s best to just let them go and pretend like you’re delighted and surprised with their wonderful tales of adventure that you’ve heard 56 times.

    • sophpearl October 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

      Thanks for reading!! And I completely agree – it’s an entire type of etiquette that requires displays of fake emotion 🙂

  2. Taylor Yates September 27, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    This is my first time reading your blog – loved this post! Ronvos are seriously the worst, and there’s almost no graceful way to duck out of them.


    • sophpearl September 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      Thanks so much, Tay! I’m looking at your blog now and can definitely relate to your latest post about decisions!

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