Often when I examine myself and where I want to be, I wonder if I’ll ever be human. Sometimes when I’m at a bar and people seem to be having a good time around me and I’m in my own island, these thoughts pop up.
And then… I’ll have experiences like I had Thursday night and tonight. And, I’ll feel like I can do this!
I know I don’t tell this blog about all the lousy experiences I have. I don’t feel obligated to share everything with this blog. They happen and they get me down. Which is why I think I should take a moment to applaud these experiences.
I ride the train (read: subway) to and from work each day. (My dream is to ride a bike or roller blades to work, but for now I take the train.) On the train there are many people that seem bored and would appreciate a small conversation. (Nothing too personal or too long.) I often “know” who these people are. I can sense that if I said something, they would respond. At least for a minute or two. For Israelis this paragraph is laughable, after all, some Israelis take this to a bad extreme. But, for me, a former Orthodox Jewish male, the idea of speaking to a random stranger, female or male, without regard for a “tachlis” (a religious or financial purpose) is not only “crazy”, it borders on “vyihorag val yaver” (all yourself to be killed rather than transgress). You can see, therefore, why I have limited experience and confidence in engaging strangers in conversation.
Wednesday, on two different train, I was right next to the person, women in these cases, who were looking for conversation. I had a great opening line for the first one, but she was a religious Jewish woman (obviously married) and I felt very uncomfortable saying something to her. The second was further away from me. She kept looking at me with “angry” eyes. But, then she moved very close to where I was and she looked at me a couple of times. I felt very sure that she wanted me to say something. But, the anger in her earlier glances and the fact that she was also a very religious woman (though unmarried), kept me from saying a word.
Thursday, I was working on my Sudoku puzzle when a couple moved to a bench that had two open seats. When they sat down a young woman stood up. It was obvious that she got up to make things comfortable for the couple. I seemed very friendly and I wanted the third to be the charm. I looked for something to say. She had a cross dangling from her neck, but too close to very visible cleavage. Too dangerous. Pink nail polish, hmm, but she was wearing black, so I couldn’t comment on that. Then I saw her earrings. Holy cow! They were long rectangle thingies! I was genuinely curious. So I asked her if they were religious.
“Your earrings, are they religious? I see you are wearing a cross.” (I thought maybe they were the Ten Commandments or something similar.)
“Oh, haha, no, they are cassette tapes.”
We had a brief conversation for another minute or so and she left smiling. Mission accomplished!
I signed up for notification of free events in New York City on twitter. Monday morning I got a notification that “The Leprechaun” would be playing for free at a bar in Manhattan. After checking IMDB.com, I decided to attend. When I got there, the bartender explained that they weren’t able to get the movie, so they were showing “Up” instead. A group of guys at the bar overheard our exchange and we engaged them in conversation.
Later a gal sat next to me. She was joined by her boyfriend a little while later. The three of us had a very interesting conversation about health care reform. Too bad Congress wasn’t in the room with us, I think we had the problem licked.
After they left, I shared a conversation with a couple on the other side of me and a different bartender. The bartender and the fellow were both facing the prospect of having to propose to their girlfriends. At first I suggested reasons not to get married, but after I saw that these poor men aren’t facing the same issues as me, I tried to honestly reassure them.
(For example, the bartender said he totally loves her and he wants to have children with her. However, the idea that he’ll never be with another woman scares him. I asked him if he would even want to be with another women. (I wouldn’t ask that of most people, it’s a dangerous question, but I was confident of how he would answer.) He admitted that he doesn’t want to be intimate with anyone else. I tried to show him that he isn’t really giving anything up.)
The only drawback was I didn’t get to watch the film. 🙂 But, since I only went to the film in the hopes of meeting and conversing with people, I have to consider the night a complete success!