I sympathies with you as I used to have a bit of a difficult time with social conversation.
Actually it was turning the social conversation dynamic into something else than what it is traditionally thought of which made me more appreciable to NT sensibilities.
For me it was PUA (the pick-up arts) which both motivated me (with a sex reward) and made what otherwise seemed like a waste of time into a dynamic I could understand....esentially a game.
Although I doubt the pick up arts are your cup of tea, nevertheless its primary components of social dynamics and NLP (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-l...ic_programming ) can just as easily be applied for platonic purposes. Thus mindless chatter can be adjusted into meaningful social experiments.
After a while it even becomes fun.