I’m Different. Just Like You.

 

I'm different
Summer’s first day 2017

 

The sunrise on the first day of summer 2017 was spectacular. At first rose colored, then transitioning into a palette of blues, with a grand finale in golds and yellows. Breathtaking.

Being a Floridian, I have seen more than my fair share of sunrises over the ocean. They are all similar in that they begin with the dark sky giving way to the growing light. For a few brief moments, the twinkling stars and shining moon are backlit in a series of blues ranging from indigo, to azure, to cobalt.

Once the sun nears the horizon, everything changes, every time. The radiant colors might be splashed across multi-layered clouds. Or there may be a complete absence of cloud coverage, allowing the sun its dramatic solitary show. The pelicans might be flying in formation over a barely ruffled surface, or they may be swooping down between the troughs of the waves. Spectacular.

Each one breathtakingly the same. Each one spectacularly different.

Just like us.

In the 50+ years I’ve been allowed on this earth, a number of diverse philosophies have been embraced by society. One trend that failed to truly resonate with me is the thought that we are all the same. Flesh encased skeletons. Carbon units with a built-in survival instinct. An astounding biological unit, to be sure. Each having their own identifying human prints. Breathtaking to consider.

There, for me, the similarities end. From birth we walk our own path, make our own decisions (for better and for worse), and we march to the drummer in our own heads. The nationality decreed on us when we take that first, tantalizing breath holds great sway on our development, as well. Which is another way of marking our uniqueness. Each individual is strikingly different.

We become who and what we are by the series of decisions made on a moment by moment basis. Each experience, and it’s accompanied consequences, impact our next decision. From “I’ll never do that again” to “Okay, next time, I’ll…”

Which is why I fail to understand why people become so upset if not agreed with completely. For example, some individuals enjoy eating liver and onions. I, however, HATE liver and onions. Can’t we have dinner together anyway? The differences between us should be celebrated, not stifled. Even for people who eat liver.

Age. Race. Gender. Money. Nationality. Religion. Politics. Employment. Children. Technology. Each of these subjects might serve as a divider, but they shouldn’t. They are samples of what makes individuals different and more interesting, creating subjects for joyous conversation, not hate-filled exclusion.

How boring would this world be if everyone was a 50+ white female middle class American protestant without party affiliation who is a writer with grandchildren and no fear of computers? Thank God we are different in so many ways, on so many levels.

I’m different. Just like you.

Each one breathtakingly the same. Each one spectacularly different.

 

How to Small Talk

 

Alright boys and girls gather ‘round. I’m going to share with you the secret of (drum roll, please) Small Talk with the Opposite Sex. It is an art form that very few members of the species understand how to employ with someone they’ve just met. Especially if there is any type of physical attraction.

It’s Saturday night and you’re at the club. You’ve just gotten your first drink, so you’ve been there long enough to check out the crowd. There are a few faces softly illuminated by their cell phones as they tap away on the screen. A few more are into heavy conversations with others in their space. Some are dancing to the music in choreographed formation. Some others have a ring on the third finger of their left hand.

These situations equal an Automatic No. An invisible “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs above each of these people. Do not attempt to engage them in small talk. It may end in Automatic Rejection.

Then there are the rest of the patrons. They might be sitting at the bar, perhaps chatting pleasantly with others around them. Perhaps not. Some might be waiting in a line for whatever the reason. Others just milling about. Choose the one that you find attractive.

Ready? Here we go.

  • Respect – This word gets thrown around a lot, but few people seem to understand what it is. For those not sure, here’s a primer. Don’t invade the personal space (which should get you slapped/pushed away), do not leer (you might get an introduction to the bouncer), don’t ask if she fell from heaven, etc. (cheesy lines are meant for use between friends/lovers, not strangers).
  • Engage – Start small. Say hello, or hi, or hey, or whatever you generally say when you meet someone. Don’t fake it. It’ll show. This is the first impression, right? Just say hello.
  • Accept Rejection – Like a well-mannered person should. Did she offer a quick smile and then turn her back on your greeting? That is as polite a rejection as she should have to give. Besides, if you walk away, she just might call you back.
  • Introduce yourself – If she didn’t turn away from your greeting, tell her your name. Please don’t offer your hand while doing so. Too many jerks, I mean germs, are around to allow physical contact on an intro in a bor. If she still hasn’t turned away, ask for her name.
  • Banter –The ice is broken, she has given you her name. Tell her your impression of it. “That’s a (nice/unique/elegant) name,” for instance. Speak to her about anything else that will carry on the conversation. With the exception of money, politics, and/or religion. Those are the three big No-No’s. The weather, the club, sports, pick a topic. This is also where you can offer to buy the next drink.
  • Interested – Here is the most crucial piece of advice that I can offer. LISTEN. Put aside your lust and imaginings and listen to what the person is saying. Repeat it back, if you must, but listen. The natural course of human interaction should take it from there.

What if you find that you aren’t really ‘attracted’ to the person once the conversation has begun? Well, remember this… you can never have too many friends.

There are literally billions of people out there. Take this Small Talk guide and apply it in other places. Get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone sitting on the bus next to you. Or standing in line at the store. Or anywhere else you might find yourself with people you don’t already know. Small talk may lead to bigger things.