Clear and Present Stranger


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Writer’s block and wine shortage are two things that I fear. This week, they happened on the same day. Just damn. So my apologies for the two-day delay in the posting of this column.  As soon as it’s finished, I’m off to the liquor store. My mom must be proud…

Speaking of my mom…

She has always told people that when it comes to making friends, my life is an open book. She should know, having been my librarian for years.

Ok, so that analogy was a stretch…but the point is, I talk to strangers. It’s just who I am.  Regardless of all the ‘Stranger Danger’ lectures from my parents, even as a child, I could not help myself.

My husband has accustomed himself to this reality and has adapted accordingly.

He has learned that if I’m in a public setting with opportunities to socialize, I will do exactly that. He avoids going out with me very much. Not really, but he has developed an incredible ‘game face’ about it.

Thankfully I’ve learned how to read people and am able to tell if they are receptive to chit-chat while seated next to me at the coffee shop. Especially if they have the good (mis)fortune to be stuck waiting for their take out sandwich. Enter Steve and Rebecca.

After spending too many hours web-surfing at Auntie Irene’s Espresso, I had the opportunity to meet Steve and Rebecca, my unsuspecting new friends-to-be. Steve was wearing a Marine (ooh-rah) t-shirt representing his son Eric. Which prompted me (as a military mom) to ask the standard questions: Marines? Duh. Current station? San Diego. Duty Assignment? Infantry…and so forth. Rebecca answered very kindly, and shared with me the same feelings common to military moms.

Steve smiled and nodded in all the right places (he has a good ‘game face’ too) and contributed occasionally as Rebecca and I shared mutual parenting stories and woes. We agreed that age of middle school is toughest…for parents…and observed the blessing/curse that is known as the digital age. We also risked sounding ‘old’ by stating that the current generation of kids simply doesn’t get the value of quality face time. During the course of our chitting and chatting I learned that Rebecca has garnered the Trifecta of Transition:

  • Recent Move
  • Unemployment
  • Empty Nest

All happening at once. Add to that an active duty son in the Marines (ooh-rah) currently prepping for deployment, and she has every reason to be a babbling incoherent mess. But no. She’s charming, poised and gracious. I think I hate her.

Okay, not really. But I do envy her ability to compassionately listen and converse with the ramblings of strangers (me) while remaining patient. Even after her takeout lunch arrived, she lingered and politely let our random conversation wrap up naturally. Her life is nearly an ‘open book’ as mine.

After final pleasantries were exchanged,they headed out, lunch in hand and ready to go about the rest of their day, leaving me with a renewed inspiration to write and an empty wine rack still to be filled. But it looks like someone else just walked in the door. I wonder what they’re having for lunch…

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