12 January 2009
Traits of Strangers
DH and I were out to breakfast when someone at a table adjacent to us asked if we'd managed to score tickets to the hottest event in town. No, I told him. Even if we'd been interested in the event (and we're not) we wouldn't have purchased tickets. Much too expensive. He and DH discussed it for a few seconds, I went back to reading the paper.
After the man left, DH raised his eyebrows and asked me if I had ever randomly struck up a conversation with someone in a restaurant. Being an extrovert, talkative, and wildly curious, (ummm....read that nosy) of course I have.
People-watching is a sport, one I thoroughly enjoy. When I've noticed that someone is people-watching me, I usually just allow it, ignoring whomever it is.
I was out at a coffee hangout with a small group of fiber-fanatic friends for an evening of knitting and networking (also otherwise known as gossiping) and I noticed a woman in a nearby chair watching us. We're loud, opinionated, have a very good time together, and, I imagine, a great deal of fun to watch.
My birthday just passed, and since I hadn't seen my friends before my big day, they had presents for me. Lovely presents were opened, and our observer giggled right along with us as I laughed over the choices my friends had made for me. A knitting book I'd wanted, but been too cheap to spend the money on. A pound of coffee with a vanity label, hysterically funny. Stitch markers from Hide & Sheep, a company whose name amuses me to no end.
When the presents were put away and the needles pulled out, she gave up pretending that she wasn't paying attention to us and asked outright what we were doing. We invited her to pull up a chair and give the knitting a shot, and she did.
We proudly showed off our individual projects, talked about how each of us had learned to knit, showed her things we'd made that we happened to be wearing. As we talked, we discovered a kindred spirit. Someone whose political leanings were in our direction, whose sense of humor mirrored our twisted own. What began as an evening of just our little insular group grew by one, and the evening was richer for the experience.
We exchanged telephone numbers and e-mail addresses when the baristas looked like they were going to kill us if we stayed for just one more minute, inviting her to join our knitting group that meets monthly. Oh, she said, there are more of you? Laughingly, we explained that we're just a clique of the larger group, and that not everyone is as cool as we are. Or so we think, legends in our own minds that we are.
I kept thinking, though, about how even the most extroverted of us don't usually walk up to a group of boisterous strangers and ask to join in. And even the most friendly of us might not be receptive to someone "barging in" to a gathering of friends.
I'm glad she did. I'm glad we were. And I hope she comes to our larger monthly gathering. Time will tell.