Reflections: Conversations With Strangers…
“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” Fydor Dostoevsky
On a Supermarket checkout line
E: You’ve got quite the selection of cat food there.
She: Yeah… they’re on sale (laughs)
E: My cat loves Fancy Feast. Does yours have a preference?
She: That’s good! I like to buy a few cans of the different brands…
E: I see that. What type of cat do you have?
She: I don’t have a cat…
E: Oh, but you’re buying cat food.
She: Yeah, I buy it as an occasional treat for my show dog… he loves it.
E: Wow! What kind of dog?
She: A Cocker Spaniel
E: How did he get introduced to cat food?
She: I used to have a cat… my ex took him when we split.
E: I see. Does the cat eat dog food? Just joking!
She: Right…funny! What are you? A freaking cop!? (laughs)
What’s the most unexpected thing a stranger has ever said to you? We meet strangers/people all the time but not everyone leaves an impression on us. It usually takes a special conversation, interesting exchange or a moment that stirs something in us emotionally. Sometimes, those exchanges can lead to friendships and that is what makes our world a fascinating place to be. Above and below, I’ve added my recollection of some unexpected turns in a few conversations I’ve had over the years. For the sake of brevity, I am E. 😉 I added poems on the subject by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. What unexpected thing has a stranger said to you?
“Happiness grows at our own firesides, and is not to be picked in strangers’ gardens.” Douglas William Jerrold
On the Street in Harlem
He: How you doing sister?
E: Fine… and you?
He: I’m good… where you rushing to?
E: em… class. Take care!
He: Wait, wait. Wanna marry me, Honey? You’re a tall drink of water…
E: em… (nervous laugh) Not today!
He: Uh uh… ( roaring laughter)
When I lived and worked in Harlem, I was always engaged in some back and forth banter with people on the street; mostly guys with the funniest pick up lines. The one above stayed with me because the exchange was warm and a tad funny. Plus, I liked that tall drink of water line.
“For me, there are no my people and strangers, no bad people and good people. All people are equal for me.” Viktor Yanukovych
To a Stranger by Walt Whitman via famouspoetsanpoems.com
Passing stranger! you do not know
How longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking,
Or she I was seeking
(It comes to me as a dream)
I have somewhere surely
Lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other,
Fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me,
Were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become
not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes,
face, flesh as we pass,
You take of my beard, breast, hands,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you
when I sit alone or wake at night, alone
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
I love this poem as it is the perfect ode to a distant lover or stranger, and it captures the lingering, wondering thoughts we have about such matters… Every potent conversation we have with a stranger leaves us with a lingering memory. More below. 😉
“Admiration and familiarity are strangers.” George Sand
A Subway Conversation
He: I know you from somewhere…
E: Really? I never forget a face.
He: The Gallery opening on X Street
E: I wasn’t there… Are you sure?
He: Yes, yes… You wore a fuchsia dress.
E: No. I wasn’t there. Have a nice day!
He: Come on, I’m joking… Wanna &*(^)!
E: What!!!?…. Train stops. Door opens. I run off. It’s not my stop.
If You Were Coming In The Fall by Emily Dickinson via Americanpoems.com
If you were coming in the Fall,
I’d brush the Summer by
With half a smile, and half a spurn,
As Housewives do, a Fly.
If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls —
And put them each in separate Drawers,
For fear the numbers fuse —
If only Centuries, delayed,
I’d count them on my Hand,
Subtracting, till my fingers dropped
Into Van Dieman’s Land.
If certain, when this life was out —
That yours and mine, should be
I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind,
And take Eternity —
But, now, uncertain of the length
Of this, that is between,
It goads me, like the Goblin Bee —
That will not state — its sting.
I think the man on the subway was nuts, but maintained a veneer of sanity. Initially, I thought… “How funny!” but his unexpected last line shocked me. That’s life, eh? Full of surprises. What about you? What are your thoughts? What unexpected things have you heard from strangers? How did you react/respond? Do you engage in conversations with strangers often? What memories do you have of them? Do share! Thank you. 🙂
This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Plinky: What’s the most unexpected thing a stranger has ever said to you?
Positive Motivation Tip: At some point, even our friends were strangers. If you find common ground, reach out and connect.
- Talking to Strangers (mph510.wordpress.com)
- I have never… started a conversation with a stranger. (neverdonestuff.wordpress.com)
- How to Pick Up a Stranger (or Produce Brilliant Work) (jonathanfields.com)
- Understanding Walt Whitman (greatmentor.net)
- Awesome Book Cover: The Stranger (manonmona.wordpress.com)
- Friday dilemma: Responding to a well-meaning stranger (thepunch.com.au)
- A real conversation with a real idiot (areyoufrigginkiddingme.wordpress.com)
- poem (queerlandia.com)