Opening Salvo

Last night’s party was mildly fun in that way that familiar people in a known setting  can be fun, which is to say that those with whom one is least familiar are the wild cards. Wild cards are always good for social situations because they have the potential to spark people into reacting differently from usual, highlighting small shades of their personality in ways that pique our interest.

Even those closest to us have places and ways that we haven’t seen. Knowing someone completely isn’t possible –  thank goodness – which makes the discovery of even the tiniest nuance in them a matter of delight. We search for newness in people and relationships, and creating novelty is an under-rated skill for keeping us fresh, especially in marriage. Think of it as brewing fresh coffee every morning; the coffee is the same, but every cup is just a little piece of wonder.

I sometimes think this is the treadmill curse of being human, the interminable search for that slightly newer thing. Everyone who manufactures stuff knows that keeping customers’ interest is best achieved with a new or updated product, or at least the hint that newness lies within.

On the other side is the way this desire drives innovation and improvement. How easy would it have been for, say, Boeing to sit back and say that the 747 was the best plane ever built and that to spend billions improving it would be an intolerable waste of money?

Meeting new people is something that I neither relish nor dislike. Meeting for business reasons obviously has a different, more scripted feeling than any social deal. That’s why our first social interactions can be fraught, because there is no script – it’s much more like improv theater than anything else, because there’s no telling what the other person will say or do. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get off the beaten path pretty quickly, because I employ the only routine I know that works for improv, which is:

Yes, and…(with encouraging body language or extra questions)…

…which allows the other person to follow their thought.

It’s not a bad way to approach a date, either, as long as you can find the funny side of wherever you end up.

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