Just Asking
Comfort Zone.............................................. Me

Miss Marple And Me

Patrick ohhhhhhhh sooooooooo casually asked me how a person might go about talking to another person if they - let's call them A and B - always sit at different tables at lunch.

[Allow me to stop here and list all of the things I did right from this point forward:

  1. I didn't say Oh my god WHAT?
  2. I didn't ask him who B is
  3. I didn't suggest "Have you, I mean A, tried sitting down at the other table and saying hello?"
  4. I didn't point out that it was after midnight and perhaps not the best time for a social strategy session

OK. That's it.]

After choking back instincts one through four I tried to remember everything I could about being thirteen. Which... shudder. Then I started singing that Big Star song in my head. Then... focus! How DO you traverse the labyrinthine shoals of junior high? How did I? I don't think I did. Gak, junior high. In the end it took me a dictionary to find out the meaning of unrequited... FOCUS!

"Uh. Huh. The... the person always sits at the same table?"


"With the same people?"


"Are any of your friends friends with her or one of her friends?"

"Not really." [SEE WHAT I DID THERE? Ahem.]

"OK. Well. What if... what if you made a big batch of something interesting like... like bacon buns or... or doughnut holes and then went to a couple of different tables offering them to people and then wound up at the table in question?"

"Bacon buns??? You want me to walk around with a basket full of bacon buns??? And offer them to people??"

Well, when you say it like that anything would sound stupid.

"What about a shrimp boil?" And, seeing the look of utter incomprehension on Patrick's midwestern face, I translated: "Slap some newspaper down on her table and then dump eight gallons of peel-and-eat shrimp on top."

This, at least, made him laugh and in the meantime I promised I would think about it and get back to him.

So, you know, let me know what you socially comfortable types would do if you were A and wanted to get to know B better. Because I've got nothing but crustaceans.

PS Speaking of shrimp, I make a conscious effort to treat Caroline more or less exactly as I would have hated to be treated when I was her age. I mean, of course, love security structure et cetera but I have to remind myself that everything I found worry inducing at seven; Caroline mainlines. Saying yes to her requests for independence is easy (easy now that my own anxiety is managed) but encouraging her to push boundaries that I cannot even see is much harder.

But I try.

So she empties the mousetraps and reads National Geographic and when we were at the grocery store today I sent her to the seafood counter to negotiate for half a pound of shrimp. I walked a pretty good distance away - clear over to dairy - and then I watched the encounter like a charming silent movie. At first the butcher couldn't see her so she rapped on the glass of the display case and then he leaned waaaaaaay over to talk to her. They had an exchange that lasted longer than half-a-pound-of-shrimp-please and eventually she reached up and he stretched down and she left with her white paper parcel.

"Thank you," I said.

"Certainly," she replied.

And that was the end of it until I looked at the package tonight and saw two things: one, the guy had drawn a smiley face on the paper next to the label; and two, he had charged her one cent. Point Five-Two pounds of peeled deveined shrimp at a per pound cost of one penny.

Clearly I need Caroline to do my marketing more often and equally clearly it IS possible to express friendliness through shrimp. So HA! NOT such a stupid idea after all, Patrick.

PPS Thank you. That was EXACTLY what I wanted to know about programming. EXACTLY.