Each month I attend a manly meeting. One member presents a "paper," the others listen and ask questions, then we visit around a table of refreshments. We leave the meeting knowing a little more than before.
At first I feel awkward, out of place (except for being male), almost hypocritical, anti-intellectual. Then I relax and see myself speaking, focused on a narrow line of inquiry, normally of little interest to anyone else. Gotta smile, so self-possessed, somewhat peculiarly dressed, sounding passionate about something arcane, listening like a ghost from a ceiling corner.
A long time ago a mentor suggested that if I don't like someone when I first meet him or her, I should try to identify what it is that bothers me. I might discover in that thing, that feature, something I don't appreciate about myself. This insight has served me well, and bad first impressions sometimes have developed into valuable relationships.
"Ah," says Virginia. "In a way, this turns on its head the accepted importance of first impressions."
I recall a conversation I watched 15 to 20 years ago. Someone began, "So you're a runner?" I nodded. Another person said, "Have you ever noticed runners are never smiling?" I said, "Well, if you ever see me running, maybe you'll notice something else."
So, this person is driving his car and sees a runner, for three seconds. The runner isn't smiling. He thinks, runners aren't happy people.
Okay, so Tom the window-peeper sees this fellow hunched over his stamp collection, not smiling. He thinks, stamp collectors aren't happy people.
"I drove past the ninth hole yesterday," says Virginia. "And the four-some was laughing. Maybe I should take up golf."
Let me just say, think about it...and a mirror might come in handy.
2 weeks ago