My homey Caitie recently blogged about her experience at a party we went to this past Saturday. It was interesting to read about what moments stood out to her because, although we were at the same place, the things that stood out to her were certainly different than the things that stood out to me.
For her, one of the big moments was when a small group of us (who didn’t really know many people there) started dancing to a certain song. Personally? I don’t actually remember hearing that song. I remember dancing but it wasn’t a very meaningful memory to me. It was fun, but I barely acknowledged that it happened.
For me, the highlight of the party (as usual when I hang out with groups of strangers) was certain conversations I had.
I should backstory this a bit.
First off, I love having conversations with people I have just met. It’s just so awesome to be able to talk to someone and have no idea how they’ll answer things or what their reactions will be. To me, trying to figure people out is sort of a sport and conversations with strangers is basically the Super Bowl.
When I was a kid, I told my grandma about how I got nervous talking to people at school. I felt like I was kind of a loser because everyone else in my family is a salesperson; we have a family business that thrives on the fact that my relatives can talk to anyone and sell them anything. My grandma, who could carry on a conversation with a tree, gave me some advice that I think about almost daily. She said, “Kyle, talking with people is like throwing a ball. And the ball is questions. You just gotta throw it back and forth.”
It seems weird, but I remember what we did right then. We sat in the van as she drove down the road and we had a “practice conversation.” Yes. I was about 10, probably wearing a Batman shirt, having my grandma teach me how to talk to people as though I were a social leper.
She would ask me a simple conversational question (such as “Where are you from?” or “How are you today?”) I would give a simple answer. “Yes.” “No.” “Fine.” And for every one, she would say, “No, you have to answer and then ask them a question.” So I would respond with, “I’m from Osage Beach. Where are you from?”
We did this for probably 20 minutes or so. And that conversation has continued throughout my life ever since. After practicing this for years, it has become completely second nature for me. I meet someone and immediately begin with questions. For one, no one wants awkward silence with a stranger and secondly, most people love to talk about themselves. I was partially raised by my grandma and she taught me alot. But I honestly believe this is the most important thing she passed on to me.
Now, back to the party.
So we arrive and the place is full of strangers. I had previously met, maybe, 4 people who were there and that was about it. For some, this isn’t a fun situation. For me (with a little vodka), this is awesome. I love this situation.
I kinda hang with my roomies in the beginning. They knew as few people as I did and at first I didn’t really think they were gonna have a good time. But I was wrong and soon they were hanging out with other people which left me free to kinda roam and meet people.
I walked up to a group of strangers standing by the grill, watching a log burn. I stepped in with a line I’ve found to work really well at parties. As of yet, it has a 100% success rate. I just slide into the group and say, “Hi, I don’t know any of you.” I try to say it like a joke and usually people are so weirded out by it that they laugh and then we do introductions. I have no clue why people are always so accepting of someone saying this, but they have been so far.
I was standing next to a really pretty girl in this group and, after 20 minutes or so, the rest of the group kinda shifted away, leaving just me and her.
We talked for maybe 15 minutes or so. I asked question after question. She gave answer after answer. And she also asked alot of questions of her own. My grandma would like her.
I try not to outstay my welcome with new people so I found a reason to part ways with her and we ended on a good note.
Later in the night, we ended up sitting by each other inside the house. The conversation started again and we kinda just clicked. This happens every now and then with people I meet and I love it. I live for these kinds of conversations. Sometimes, it’s just a one-time thing with people; you catch them on the right night, in the right mood, and the convo just flows effortlessly. This was exactly that.
We talked about some really unusual topics. Things I never really discuss. She’s really into economics, like international trade and such. Yeah, not a topic I know alot about. But that was awesome. It left a billion questions to be asked. And what was even crazier was that she made it interesting. We also discussed mugging, growing up in Peru, improv comedy, skydiving, English slang, overcoming phobias, and a bunch of other stuff. It was really enjoyable.
And yeah, it didn’t hurt that she was really pretty. But now that I think about it, I don’t at all remember her being pretty before that second long conversation. She hadn’t stood out from the group when I first approached them. Other people at the party later mentioned her being pretty so I guess I just don’t tend to notice girls until I’ve talked with them a little, I dunno.
At the end of the night, she made the typical goodbye rounds, telling everyone she’d see them again. She hadn’t known many people when she arrived at the party, but she’d met a few over the course of the night. I saw her shaking all their hands as she left. Then she came over to me and gave me a hug.
I’m not the type to read into things. A girl like that is way out of my league. And that’s okay. But it was nice to get treated with a little more attention than all the other people she said goodbye to.
We said goodbye and that was it. No exchanging numbers. No facebook friend requests. No “see you at what’s-his-face’s party next weekend.” That could very well be the only time I ever have any interaction with her.
Call me weird, but isn’t that kinda awesome? Or romantic or something? Like, I met this really cool girl and we had this one time where we really clicked and just enjoyed talking to each other. That’s it. There was no negative to it at all.
Having been in some long-term relationships, I can honestly say that I would usually prefer one night of interesting conversation over a great relationship that ends terribly. And let’s be honest, most of them do. Mine always have.
So I should be really grateful that my grandma made such a point to teach me how to talk to new people. What I’ve gained from that lesson has often been alot more meaningful to me than frivolous hook-ups and meaningless flirting. It’s given me the opportunity to connect with people (yes, usually girls; so what?) and share little moments with them that I otherwise couldn’t have.
I guess that when I was learning how to converse with new people, what I didn’t realize was that my grandma was actually being a totally boss wingman for life. Thanks, Grandma!
- I was talking to someone today about a girl I thought he might be interested in and the convo went exactly like this:
- A.K.: So tell me more about this girl. What's she like?
- Me: Um, she's cool and funny.
- A.K.: What? No, what does she look like though?
- Me: She has dark hair. Kinda short, I guess.
- A.K.: What....like...size is she? I'm not trying to be a douche, I just mean in general.
- Me: Um...I guess, like....kinda...not in a bad way, but...kinda like...thicker? Like thicker than, like, I dunno, a skinny girl?
- A.K.: Thicker than [a mutual friend of ours]?
- Me: Yeah, a little.
- A.K.: Uh,...yeah, I dunno about that...
- Me: But she's like super cool and funny. She likes Lost. I know that. I know she likes Lost.
- A.K. (after some laughter): So, "funny" and "likes Lost." That's all it takes for you? Like, you think she's hot based on that?
- Me: Totally. Doesn't everyone?
- A.K.: No. Most guys only like that if it's also in addition to her being hot. You think a girls hot if she's funny?
- Me: YES. Totally. And/or if she plays a musical instrument.
- A.K. [more laughter]: Wow. Weird.
- Okay, so, seriously, am I the only person that thinks being funny and having good taste in movies, tv, and music are HUGELY important qualities? Like, I'd rather date a physically unattractive girl who wanted to discuss movies than a supermodel who never saw an episode of Breaking Bad.
- I hope I'm not the only person like this. Because my impeccable taste in pop culture is kinda my only tool of seduction. Don't let me down, girls of the world.
- (And guys, start caring more about this kinda stuff. Trust me. The supermodels won't be hot forever. Eventually, you're gonna be old and have nothing to do but watch movies together...)
Now that Thanksgiving is over (it seems like it was here just yesterday!), I’ve decided that I should be like everyone else on Tumblr and list the things I’m thankful for. Some are expected, some aren’t.
So here we go, homies (“homies?” Since when do I say that?):
- Velveeta mac and cheese - this is what God spent that 8th day working on.
- Instruments of all kinds - we spent a large portion of our Turkey Day playing music together and, even though it was mostly out of sync and awful, I still had fun. And I couldn’t imagine not playing music on a regular basis.
- My roomies/neighbors - I only have 2 actual roomies, but I hang out with them and my neighbors so much that it really feels as though we all live together. And despite the occasional drama we deal with, I dig these people. They’re cool cats.
- That feeling you get when you think the box of cereal is gonna be empty but then you pick it up and it’s like half full - Victory!
- The cast of Jersey Shore/all of the Kardashians - Yes, I said it. You can talk shit about them all you want, but let’s be honest here: if it weren’t for them, we’d have no one to make us feel better about ourselves as people. Example: you failed at something today? Hey, at least you’re not Snooki! (See, it works)
- My job - Considering my age and all, I have a pretty rad job. It’s not EXACTLY what I wanna do with my life, but it’s in the general vicinity. And it’s full-time and I have, like, benefits and all that. It’s pretty grown-up-ish of me actually. And I only hate a few people I work with. Yay!
- Movies - I literally can’t imagine a life without them. Most of my vocabulary wouldn’t even exist without movies.
- Batman - Yeah, obvious, but come on. I mean, most of my basic beliefs since childhood were taught to me by Batman. You know, justice, not killing people, don’t trust anyone dressed as a clown, etc. Those are some good morals in my book.
- The obvious stuff - My family, shelter, food, etc. It kinda goes without saying that I am thankful for this stuff, but I’m gonna say it anyway. (Side note, speaking of family: my mom called me a few weeks ago. I missed the call. She left a voicemail. What it said was as follows: “Hi Kyle. I just thought I’d call you because I was at [her job] this morning and I saw a kid walk by and he was carrying a little Chik-Fil-A bag and…well, it kinda made me get sad and miss you. So call me when you get a chance. I love you. Bye.” I know you’re thinking “Aw, that’s sweet” or whatever, but let’s focus on the depressing fact that Chik-Fil-A bags are a trigger for my mom’s memories of me…)
Ok, so that’s it. Sure, there’s alot of stuff to NOT be grateful for, but that’s why we have the other 364 days of the year. I hope you didn’t spend Thanksgiving thinking about that stuff.
Because I didn’t. I spent it gettin’ my Velveeta on.
When someone does something that hurts me, my first reaction is to hope that they get hurt in return. Sometimes, I even make a point to hurt them (emotionally) myself. Usually I don’t actually go through with it. And if I do, I sometimes end up apologizing for it.
But recently, someone who hurt me re-entered my life. And despite what they’d say, I can see in their eyes how unhappy they are. I can see how much better off I am emotionally. I can see how, despite the occasional problems I might face (money, car problems, not enough time to watch Breaking Bad, etc), my overall life is pretty good. For this person, the problems are bigger. They’re lonely and they feel like no one truly cares about them. They try to hide it, but I can see it so clearly. In other words, things have turned around; I’m now the one with my emotions figured out.
Basically, circumstances have provided me with some form of revenge.
What surprises me is that it doesn’t feel good.
I know this person wouldn’t/doesn’t care about how I’m doing. In fact, they’re pretty unaware of the good things that are going on for me. I doubt they know anything about my life other than what they might glean from Facebook. Yet I still find myself less than happy about their situation.
You know that scene in movies (such as The Dark Knight…) when the hero has a clear chance to kill the villain but somehow can’t bring himself to do it? I used to always think that was silly. I mean, this is what you want! You want to destroy your enemies! Do it!
But for whatever reason, they don’t do it. I get it now. Revenge isn’t what heroes should want. And I guess, in my way, I’m beginning to see why; it doesn’t feel as good as you hope.
I guess I have a conscience after all. Maybe, in the end, that’s all that really separates the good guys from the bad.