I am sorely tempted to write about one of the most wonderful, exciting days of my life, which happened just two days ago–but that will have to wait for my Tuesday post (mostly because it’s going to take a lot more pictures and I’m dead on my feet from this 4-day conference).
Instead, I’m writing a short piece about the perks of meeting cute people in random places under crazy bizarre circumstances. Yes, I’m meeting cute boys and getting their numbers all over the place these days. Cat got yer attention yet?
Over the past few months, armed with a newfound confidence that seemed to spring from my post-exam europhia in alarming abundance, I’ve grown dead comfortable in my own shoes and frankly love meeting everyone and anyone. I strike up conversations with people waiting in line for coffee, I allow the person asking for the time follow up with questions about the copy of Dr. Seuss I’m reading, and I hardly bat an eye anymore when that handsome waiter comes over bringing trays of appetizers “on the house,” “just ’cause.” I’ve noticed that freebies tend to be a side perk of being friendly, and as a wallet-scrunching grad student, I’ll take what I get.
Possibly my favorite part about staying open-minded about random encounters, though, is the potential for hilarious stories to tell all your friends afterwards. Most recently, I walked into a Starbucks and spotted a really good-looking guy about my age sitting at one of the counters with a laptop. On a scale of 1 to 10, he was a 9.5–Zac Efron meets Orlando Bloom and bonus points for the clean shave.
After about 5 minutes of fiddling with my bike outside debating whether or not I should leave (as I had planned), I finally made the decision: I bolted my bike lock, strode determinedly back to the door (slapping on my ‘Hi my name is Ala and I’m friendly not psychotically over-deliberative’ face in the process), and plopped myself onto a stool next to his friend, where we struck up conversation about who knows what–and frankly, I didn’t really care what. It might have been about his college’s finals or something. Anyway, about a minute into this conversation, he looked up from the other side of his friend, caught my eye, and smiled at me.
Ignoring the impending swoon that threatened to keel me over like a dehydrated dandelion, I smiled back and asked him if he, too, was a student. This sent us spiraling into a whole other conversation (he was a business student, he lived not too far away, and we both loved coffee shops) and before I knew it, we had been chatting for near ten minutes. It was about this time, however, that we hit our first lovely bump.
Him: Sooo, your last name–what is it, Chinese?
Me: Yeah, it is.
Him: Oh, very cool. (beat. Then, proudly) I’m half Japanese, too.
Me: …Oh. Uhhh. Really, is that so?
Him: Yeah, I am.
Me: Um, cool.
Him: So we have a connection there.
Call me crazy, but last I checked, Japan and China were two entirely different political, cultural, socioeconomic creatures, bro.
Strike 2 came pretty soon after–and like the aftershock of an earthquake, it came in with some pretty hefty speed behind bump #1.
His friend (to me) : “So like, you don’t look Chinese.”
Him: “Nah, you look like–”
Him: “Yeah, or Hawaiian or something. Definitely not Chinese.”
Me: (laughs–probably torn between amusement and doubt)
Him: “You look too dark to be Chinese, y’know? (beat) I thought maybe you were half or something. Yeahh, that’s it. You look half. Kinda like me. I’m half Japanese.”
Anyway, the takeaway from this short anecdote is that people really do say just the strangest things. However, if you never take the chance and open up to new meetings with strangers (cute or not), you’ll never know what funny, strange, wonderful conversations you might have missed as a result. My friends and I got a good laugh out of it for a whole day afterwards, so if nothing else it made for a good story!
Speaking of keeping open-minded, I thought I’d experiment with a technique called “painting by light” and photographed my favorite spiced oatmeal cookie recipe today in complete darkness. I used an LED flashlight to “paint” the cookies with short bursts of light that would illuminate them in certain ways and strategically cast shadows. I was mostly playing around, but hey–these are still darned good cookies! How do you like ‘em? Are they intriguing? Fun? Half-Japanese?
Regardless, make them! More substantive conference shenanigans to come on Wednesday!