Do you often find yourself at a party where the person making introductions is unaware of the etiquette whereby you mention a likely mutual interest such as “Carol also has a garden,” or “Carol also has a rotator cuff injury,” or “Carol also loves to watch really bad movies,” and instead says, “Carol’s a copyeditor,” and the person you’re being introduced to backs away saying, “Oh, hello—I just remembered I forgot to turn off the stove”?
If the person doesn’t run away, I try to leap right in with a question about his or her interests to prevent what I know will happen otherwise: the peeves list, meant to impress me by how much he or she hates a preposition at the end of a sentence.
So here’s a short list of dos and don’ts for talking to copyeditors.
—Ask if she’d like another drink
—Say, “Wow, what it’s like to work with writers?”
—Ask what she’s reading
—Say, “I wish I were clever enough to be a copyeditor!”
—Say, “Uh-oh, I’d better watch my grammar!”
—Tell stupid-copyeditor jokes
—Quote the Star Trek split infinitive “to boldly go”
—Ask her to look over your résumé
To become a popular party person, keep the list handy. Next time you’re introduced, ask your interlocutor to study it before speaking. Let me know how it goes!