Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oh the things I do

Chani (of Thailand Gal) recently did a Steal This Meme about how we meet people: what's it like to meet you, she asked.

I said---after reading her list---it was a good thing we met online.

The first time you meet me? I might act like your oldest best friend you never met.

I never ever mean to be overwhelming, or to step on toes.

It simply means I feel very comfortable with you. I sort of...pick up talking with you, as if resuming a conversation we interrupted five minutes ago.

Yesterday, I made a new friend. In the Target parking lot.

I was with the entire family, and we were at the car after a looooooooooong Home Depot and Target shopping trip (notice how those are so often proximate to one another?) loading the bags into the trunk. About finished, I turned to get the last bag, and noticed The Lady with the cream Beatle convertible with MA plates walking to her car.

"Just a sec, hon," I called to my husband, "I'll be right back!"

I rushed over to her and said, "MASSACHUSETTS, hey MASSACHUSETTS! You're from Massachusetts?"

She pointed to her license plates, laughed and said, "Yeah, Cohasset! You?"

"Beverly," I said, happily yet wistfully, "We moved down from Beverly."

That's all it needed: instant allies, friends.

"How long?" she asked.

"Three years," I said, "And you?"

"Almost one," she sighed.

And we stood there, chatting, maybe fifteen, maybe 20 minutes? Who can say, it was a nice conversation that flowed easily and companionably.

I learned why she was down here, and she me, we traded a few tales, commiserated about the lack of public transportation, and discovered our common English major history, as well as common professional goals. By the end, we both knew we thought of ourselves as short-timers, relationship status, kids short, current life story. We traded cards and emails and promised to keep in touch.

And the last thing we traded? Names.


That is what it's like to meet me. Sometimes.

It just goes that easily sometimes. I guess you could call it clicking. It is often a matter of two people, eager to talk on some topic, both contributing equally on the same level.

But then there are other times.

Perhaps something about you makes me pause. I might realize (or I might miss it) that you need a different approach, something slower or quieter, a lower tone or level. I might need a little time to figure out how to get to know you.

Perhaps there is something about me. I might have an insecurity on my end, possibly you remind me of someone I once knew, or perhaps I feel a little uncertain, self-conscious, maybe even intimidated for some reason. It might be one of Those Days, when I'm a touch moody, or otherwise overwhelmed.

I might miss cues, and approach you too "big" then throttle back.

It might seem confusing, it might appear inconsistent. I might seem like a chameleon, and maybe I am. The desire to reach out and get to know people, that's honest and true. But once upon a time I was hindered by a sort of shyness. So I learned how to get out, meet people, open up, even work a room.

Once upon a time, I was a master of working a room. I can still do it, but as I've gotten older, my desire (sense of obligation) to do so has lessened. I don't like it much now; it feels tiresome sometimes. I'm back to where I began, in a way. I prefer a nice, small circle of good friends. I enjoy a comfy conversation with a good friend or two over a big party. If I get to a place with a crowd, if I strike up a good conversation I won't leave it just to circulate (unless I'm hosting). I'll sit and enjoy the good time.

At the end of the day, I realize I am half and half: half introvert and half extrovert. This explains everything.

Still, I'm the lady who will walk up to someone in the parking lot if I am so compelled and find a neat new person to know.

When I give you my card (and I don't always) I mean it: get in touch. If I say I will, I will. If I like you, I mean it and I add you to my "someone I know and like" list.

Once upon a time this was my "friend" list but I've learned a few lessons.

I don't always ask to trade info. If I do, it means I've really enjoyed our chat. Not everyone really means "call me!" Some people just give you info to "be nice." Some people are acquaintances, not friends.

And that's cool. I've learned.

I've learned to take cues, and am respectful. I don't think anyone has ever been upset by my friendliness. I do think I am pretty good at sussing out who to approach.

If I'm really motivated and the vibe seemed to be reciprocated (not just polite, and I'm getting better at distinguishing although it's MUCH HARDER down in the South where you are beaten from birth into submission to SuperFriendliness---and what lies behind that is another post altogether) I'll send a brief email.

If you don't reply, I let it go.

Speaking of letting go...remember the Hump Day Hmm this week is on Wednesday as usual and is about letting go. Put up your post, email the link to me at j pippert at gmail dot com and I'll put you in the host post. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with, especially on this topic.

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


Aliki2006 said...

I love making connections, too. I'm more introverted I suppose--although I could see myself striking up a conversation in a parking lot--easily!

Harmonica Man said...

Your parking lot incident reminds me of being a little kid. When you're 5, all it takes is for someone to step into your front lawn and you've got a best friend for life. "Hey, you're in my grass. Wanna play!"

It's nice to know there are some grown-ups out there who can still keep it that simple!

Tere said...

Interesting - you describe yourself similarly to how I describe myself. So you sound perfectly wonderful to me! LOL

thailandchani said...

Even though I am very introverted, those kinds of instant connections appeal to me. I wouldn't be put off by your approaching me in a parking lot at all.

I find most of those connections don't last.. but even that's okay. It doesn't have to "go anywhere". It is pleasant in the moment and that's just fine, too.

It's interesting you mention the social marking. Usually when that starts is when I get turned off. Not sure why that is.. but I don't like it when people start asking those questions that make me feel like I'm being measured for acceptability. There are too many other things to talk about.



Kyla said...

Ahhh, you are lovely to meet indeed!

I think I have a tendency to ALWAYS think people are feigning niceties, probably because I've always lived in the South and it is just what people do. I always assume a "Call me!" or "Let's get together!" is always said because it is expected in certain situations, rather than it being a genuine invitation. When I say it, I mean it...but I always assume others might not. Josh is always after me for this. "Some people really do mean it! CALL THEM!" *lol* I'm silly that way.

slouching mom said...

At the end of the day, I realize I am half and half: half introvert and half extrovert. This explains everything.

Funny, this is how I described myself in the comments on Chani's post, though not as eloquently as you have.

So we'd do well together, if our halves lined up. ;)

thailandchani said...

Kyla, I always look for the word "soon". Usually if the invitation is ended with the word "soon", it means "ain't gonna happen".

If someone says, "let's get together for lunch... call me in the next few days", I assume it's sincere ~ and I'll call.

I grew up in LA.. which is just about the same as the South when it comes to social niceties. (Let's do lunch, baby!) After a while, it all sounds like blah blah blah and we don't even hear it.

But sometimes.. it's real. :)



Christine said...

I don't come on big ( i think) but I responde easily to people who do. Basically i think we would click!

Emily said...

Wow -- you just described me.

I think part of the reason I don't work a room as well as I used to is that I'm out of practice. I'm an extrovert, but I'm home with the kids or writing most of the time.

kim said...

I pick people up everywhere too. The only problem is sometimes people mistake my friendliness to mean, please be my BFF.

flutter said...

Oh dear, you have thoroughly cracked me up. I think I would adore you.

Snoskred said...

I'm pretty stand offish in person, I think. But if I like you and you make me feel welcome in return, I'll open up pretty fast..

As far as the email thing goes - the letting it go is pretty dangerous because these days you can never be 100% sure if someone got the email.. I'm pretty bad with keeping up on conversations via email, because I generally get hundreds of mails a day, and they get lost in the inbox. Not to mention some of them got lost in the Gmail spam box. I'm trying to fix this with new email accounts on my own domain and making things organised, but this is one area I'm not good at. I have 5 new accounts sitting here but I have to try and work out how to work it.

Snoskred - has a new home at -
please update your links. ;)

Mary-LUE said...

I am much like you Julie. I used to be more extroverted, much more. Over the years, to me, it seems as if I've become more introverted and am more 1/2 & 1/2 now. But, I kind of think, for me, it is about life, two kids, a traveling husband, etc. There is so much life that happens, it tends to take the edge off my E-ness. However, I still find myself making more eye contact than the average Joe and talking to people in elevators, etc. I've also developed a better sensor about giving people space. Not everyone wants to talk with a loud, big laugh stranger. (But I usually do!)