How to Escape a Conversation, Heian style

Sei Shonagon’s “Pillow Book” contains a great deal of lists on various subjects, among them things she loves or lists about nature. However, one of the lists that is most applicable today is the aptly named “Hateful Things.” Each situation presented causes one to chuckle in recognition, so relevant is it to modern times.

“One is in a hurry to leave, but one’s visitor keeps chattering away. If it is someone of no importance, one can get rid of him by saying, ‘You must tell me all about it next time’; but, should it be the sort of visitor whose presence commands one’s best behavior, the situation is hateful indeed.”

You must tell me all about it next time!

An excellent suggestion on Sei’s part. The next time someone other than a boss or perhaps mother in law keeps chattering to you when you are in a hurry, simply leave with a quick “You must tell me all about it next time!’ and a smile.

They’re hateful. You’re Heian.

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