With great concentration, I am able to appear placid and nonjudgemental whilst hearing or seeing really ridiculous stuff. If I am on guard, I can get through incredibly awkward moments (each workday consists of several) without laughing or crying. If I am not prepared for the moments, if I am caught off guard, I can easily become a pool of tears or a flood of giggles.
But. It's after that moment where I am patting myself on the back (for not dissolving ) that a pause of silence follows, and I often don't know what to say.
It is here where I would wish for the talent of sympathetic wit, where I would know the right thing to say to put everyone at ease. Sometimes a few days later, it comes to me. I often think of the French term, "staircase wit." ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L'esprit_de_l'escalier ).
Today, after talking to a 19 year-old about his sinusitis, and explaining each of his prescription medications, I asked if it all made sense, if he had any questions. He looked up, for the first time during our conversation, so incredibly sad and tired, and said, seriously and forlornly, "Well, I do have one question. Is it normal for males my age to be thinking about love?"
My response was fumbly. He went on about his growing love for humanity, and perhaps just needed to say it aloud.
I didn't know what to say.