Z: Do we have any holiday parties tonight?

She: Only four. Why do you ask?

Z: I’m trying to decide if I should gouge my eyes out with a fork or drink some Drano. Which one sounds like a better excuse to you?

She: I thought you liked holiday parties.

Z: Me, too. Turns out I don’t.

She: But they’re festive. And there are carolers and eggnog.

Z: Not really selling it. However, that does make me think that maybe if I impaled myself on an antler, that would at least be in keeping with the season.

She: What happened to social Zak?

Z: He got old and crotchety. Besides, with the election over, what is there to talk to people about?

She: There’s always the economy or the wars.

Z: Now I see why you get invited to so many of these things. Your sunny outlook spreads joy and cheer wherever you go.

She: I was giving those to you as topics. I still remember how to make party talk and be a happy, gracious guest.

Z: It’s true that my small-talk muscles have gotten pretty weak. But it’s tough to convey very much through 100 decibels of “Joy to the World.”

She: When you know the other person can’t really hear you, it’s a great time to practice your accents. How do you think my Scottish-Irish-Polish brogue got to be so good?

Z: I thought that was Spanish.

She: You could even ask a substantive question and cut the small talk out altogether.

Z: Sure, but people always look at me funny when I ask them to pass the dip, how much money do you make?

She: Try asking someone about themselves — besides their income tax bracket. Show a little interest in other people.

Z: I do like other people, but mostly other people who I already know. That’s the kind of holiday party I like, one with all our friends, ‘cause then it’s just a normal party only with extra cookies. It’s the holiday parties where I don’t know anyone and have to talk business or weather that make me want to slam a Yule log into my head.

She: The secret to great conversation is to answer a question with a question. People love to talk about themselves. How do you really feel about holiday parties, honey? Don’t you just love them?

Z: No, but thank you for asking. You’re very kind. Let me tell you about the kind of day I had …

She: Or there’s always my favorite Noozhawk Talks question, “If you could be invisible, where would you go and what would you do?”

Z: Do I really want everyone to know what kind of a perv I am?

She: No, I mean that’s what you ask other people. It’s just a little conversation starter, something to do to make a holiday connection with people.

Z: Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk about religion? It is Christmas after all.

She: That’s perfect, honey. You’ll go in not knowing anyone, and come out with even fewer friends than before.

Z: And I still won’t know how much money anyone makes.

She: C’mon, it’s time to go. Let me see what you’re wearing.

Z: Do you think there’s someone I could hire to run over me with a sleigh?

She: Yes, dear.

E-mail leslie@lesliedinaberg.com to invite She and Z to your next holiday shindig.