My parents have this thing about them that I've talked about before, actually lamented would be a more appropriate description. They both have this uncanny something that makes strangers carry conversations with them EVERYWHERE!! In the doctor's office, shopping for my dad's latest toy, the grocery store, a restaurant, everywhere!! My dad is awful because he really encourages it. As friendly as he is with strangers, you really would think he would have more friends but I can't name a single one of his friends other than a few of his siblings. I guess with 8 brothers and sisters you grew up with at least one good friend, huh?
Anyway, he can absolutely hold his own surrounded by strangers. I got that from him, but I only like to use it at my discretion. He's wild with it. My mom is just very polite. Unlike my dad, she won't initiate it, but like him, she won't try to nip it in the bud once it starts. Me? I avoid eye contact and when on planes, have a newspaper (preferably the NYT and maybe a local in a large city), a magazine (something light like InStyle), a book (something VERY chick lit that I can read in 1-2 plane rides depending on length and interest), AND my ipod... all out at the same time. Can you send anymore signals to LEAVE ME ALONE!? Yeah I don't think so.
Unfortunately, I was utterly unprepared after leaving our mini Hampton reunion in Brunswick, GA this weekend. I stopped at a gas station on 95 and the old black man (at least 65) on the other side of the pump said, "How you doin?" UGHHHHHHHH!! WHY ME!!?? I could just tell from the way he said it that he was the type to carry on a long conversation. At this point I haven't even gotten the nozzle out of its holder.
"Fine, thank you."
"You on yo way to the beach?" What?! Shorts and a tank mean beach? Wow... don't you realize it's like 95 degrees and feels like 100 at 10:30 in the morning? I wish I wasn't wearing this many clothes.
"(laughs) No." I probably shouldn't have laughed but it was involuntary. What a strange question.
"Oh. You look like you on yo way to the beach. What part of NC you from?" Ugh! Stupid NC tags!
"Oh yeah? I was just up there 2 weeks ago and I'm going back 4th of July."
"Oh okay." ...
"You know where Concord Mall is?"
"That's where my brother stays. I'm originally from Greenville, NC."
"Your people still stay up there?"
"Why you laugh like that? You young but you not that young." I laughed like that because that question from men is usually followed by 'Can I have your number' and if you were to ask I would certainly hurt your feelings with something like 'You are old enough to be my grandfather! How old are you????'
"I don't know. That's just funny."
"Oh. You in school?" WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME SO MANY QUESTIONS!?! FBI man!!
"Oh where you go to school?" WHY ISN'T THIS GAS PUMPING FASTER!?!?!
"The University of Florida."
"What?! All them good schools in NC and you go all the way down to Florida? Why you go there?"
"I like the program."
"You like the program? All them good schools in NC!" FINALLY THE GAS IS DONE!
"Alright, well you have a nice day."
"Thanks, you too."
This is why I shouldn't have left my sunglasses that day. You can't see my eyes, you can't catch my eyes.