I struggle knowing what to say. Trapped in a line, chatting with others is easy since it’s always about the weather or if you are having a nice day. Outside of that, I bombard people with questions to find an engaging topic. Once that mutual link is detected, I can relax and speak authentically.
This strategy flatters some, especially folks with a grand passion lurking. The positive energy of an eager speaker is delightful, and if we like the same thing, nothing else matters. Unfortunately, many are put off my intensity and give me the “Bitch, please” look. At a recent gathering, a thirty-something scooted her chair two steps away from me, as if she feared I would grab her by the shoulders and shake her, asking, “Do you like rocks? Plants? How about zombies? Everybody likes zombies!” I think she needed more wine.
Today I had coffee for the second time with Mandy, the mother on one of Liev’s classmates. We met last year while dropping off our autistic sons for preschool. While the other mothers bonded through common complaints, she stood out as a mother who accepted her son.
During our first coffee a few weeks ago, she squirmed under my intense interrogation. Shifting in her seat, she flinched at my twitchiness since nervous me is like a found footage film of an alien invasion. Today, however, I found just the right questions to ask, and we had a lovely time. Mandy is a superfan of the Twilight franchise and glows with the enthusiasm of a person who builds worlds in her head. Although I went through my vampire phase in 1991, her sweet infatuation with the book series charmed me.
Mandy also gave me a present! Since I responded to a list of books Mandy had posted on Facebook, stating that I had never read Harry Potter, she gifted me the first book. “How could a civilized person not read Harry Potter!” She quipped. Her sweet and thoughtful gesture touched me. She also packed up her collection of sequels for me to borrow, since she was sure I would love Potter.
Her gift made me anxious. How on earth am I to read fantasy? Magic, prophecies, and deus ex machina bore me in a profound, existential way. I couldn’t make it through one novel of Lord of the Rings, let alone seven volumes of popular fantasy. I will try it. I might like it. Alan Rickman is in those Potter movies, right? 😍