Monday, May 17, 2010
Humor, lost: Chattin' you up
I've been in the mood lately of talking. To everyone I meet. Whenever I can. Sometimes this can get annoying, mostly to people who spend a few hours with me at a time. I am just in one of those phases where I want to chat with anyone and everyone I encounter, I feel curious, suspicious, gregarious.
It's a blast! Sure, some people just don't want to talk to me, or feel weird about a little redheaded Jew approaching them with kind words/ witty banter. An example of this is the four TSA officers I chatted up the other day while waiting in Arrivals at Humphrey Terminal. As per their way, the TSA guys were standing around, clutching their weapons, discussing what must have been the best ways to prevent the imminent terrorist attack on Bloomington. As I approached, I believe their first instinct was to reach for their holsters, but my backwards BNW cap, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt, black Chucks, I think, calmed their patriotic mama-bear instincts.
"What's up guys?" I beckoned.
"Huh?" They were puzzled.
"Just wanted to say hello," I replied.
They looked at me with a collective expression that spelled out sarcastically, "Well, this isn't weird at all!"
"Nice weather we're having, huh?" They seemed to budge just a half an inch.
From there, we went on to discuss, among other things, where I could buy one of their snazzy bright blue TSA uniforms second-hand (nowhere but Officer Bill's basement, so nowhere,) the kegstands I would be doing down at Carleton that weekend, and how many kegstands Officer Bill would be doing that night. These guys loved college.
Most people enjoy passing the time somehow. I think it's just a function of my feeling in a pretty good place right now, but this is a practice I'd really like to continue. Talking to people is fun. Keep in mind, folks, I come from a place (Manhattan), where this is not commonplace. Most New Yorkers walking on the street have one goal in mind: getting to where they're going. There's not a lot of, just, chillin' on the curb. Because if you stand around too long, who knows...you could get shot or mugged or pooped on by a dog or homeless man. In Minnesota, things move a little slower and I think people want to enjoy the moment a little more. Again, I'm glad I'm here.
Because why not just talk to people? What's the worst that could happen? I'll tell you: nothing. Someone will just walk away. Cool! I'll be okay, and so will they.
However, this whole chatting thing sometimes does lead to awkward encounters. This is not so much because I am an awkward person, because I really don't think I am. It's because I try to be a funny person, maybe a little too often. I figure if I'm offering my conversation, I may as well serve up a little funny as icing on that cake. For those not humor-inclined (a larger section of the population than I think anyone believes), this sometimes yields slightly uncomfortable, but for me, even funnier situations.
Take today. I had two of these. I was riding my awesome new Scooter from Loring Park to Ridgedale Center for Apple paperwork stuff, and of course got lost along the way because I take smaller, slower roads. I was somewhere near Plymouth, and stopped outside an Arby's to ask for directions. I approached a woman carrying a year-old child.
"Hi! Hello! Can you please tell me how I get to Ridgedale Center from here?"
"Hmmm," she thought aloud while the baby, let's call him Bob, cooed. "I, uh, well, if you go to 55, cut across to 394, you should get there. I think."
"Well, you see, ma'am," I politely retorted, "I'm trying to stay off the highways on this scooter here. Any ideas for smaller roads?"
"Aw geez," she Minnesota-ed. "I don't really know. I guess if you keep going along that road over there, you should hit it at some point." Good call. In essence, she was right. If I did keep going along that road, provided I didn't hit any oceans or volcanos, I probably could have kept going around the entire world, moving lightly south until I reached Ridgedale Center. I concluded this woman couldn't help me, but decided to throw her a little treat before I left. Keep in mind, folks, I was sitting on my scooter this entire time.
"You know, if you want, I could just let your kid hop on this thing and you could just give me a ride." There. Tossed that out there.
"No, no. I don't think so." She was right. That would certainly be unsafe. I thanked her and sped away.
After the Apple meeting I stopped at a Super Duper Target in Ridgedale to pick up a new softball glove, a tennis racket to give to my friend Gunther for our pending match, and some tennis balls. Quick side note: in the last month I have purchased a softball glove twice- once at K-Mart, once at Target. BOTH times have gone down the same way: I search the entire glove section for a lefty, cannot find it, seek help from a customer sales assistant, who proceeds to magically find one amidst the sea of righties. I kind of like the way that plays out, but next time I'll just go right to Joe in the red shirt.
Anyways, I arrived at the checkout counter with said three items: glove, racket, case of tennis balls. A DIFFERENT woman with a baby was ahead of me, just finishing paying for her large carload of baby food. I'm assuming there were several smaller babies inside her baby, since there's no way that kid could have possibly eaten all the baby food she was buying before he was, like 27. As she packed her baby food into her cart, I checked out. I looked at Ali, the quiet cashier, as he looked at my items. He didn't look puzzled, but I made sure he wasn't:
"Hey man, I know you're probably wondering, 'What sport are you gonna play today?' right? Well, first I'm gonna play tennis, then I have a softball game, Ok?"
Ali half smiled. I know he spoke English, because he asked what my preferred method of payment was, in those words. But I got nothing on the comment.
Except that the woman with the baby laughed her ass off. Where was she when I needed directions?
Ah, such is life. Minneapolitans not doing anything: watch out! I'm comin' to get ya with hands full of chat.
Thanks for reading today!