an old friend sent me something today which included a little snippet about her colleagues and their lunch hours. my friend is about as smart and savvy as they come, and if anybody can make useless small talk i think it would be her. but her comments about the lunchroom — tv on, folks commenting on how many points their meals are worth, and what she calls “fortune cookie” commentary on political goings-on — made me feel a little less alone. not that i mind small talk, or food talk, or weight-loss talk — it’s not that. it’s just that sometimes i feel the absence of smarty-pants academic types. so sometimes it’s good to know that others do, too.