I Used to Like Meeting New People

Last night I interviewed a young Kurt Cobain (age 7 or 8) about his future plans.  As he tried to tell me more about what he wanted to do he kept getting distracted by a similarly aged brown-haired girl (not Courtney Love).  Finally, he apologized for not being able to conduct a coherent interview and instead professed his love for this young girl.  In my dream I realized it was the titular girl from the song “About a Girl,” coincidentally my favourite Nirvana song.

 My Friends,
   Yesterday, while frequenting my favourite coffee-shop patio, I had the dubious fortune of meeting someone far too sociable for my own good.  As someone well-disposed to his fellow man, I don’t wish to sound like a hypocrite but this gentleman had no concept of the inconvenience he put me through, and if he did, well he was just plain rude.  The bitch of it is that I really wanted to like this guy and his wife because they were so sociable, but they took advantage of my good nature and ended up delaying my dinner.
   I went to the coffee-shop to continue reading “Don Quixote,” and it occurred to me to call up my woman and invite her out because she loves my company ever so much.  As I waitied for her I noticed the guy (hereafter referred to simply as “the guy” or Rob) take a seat a few feet from me.  He immediately started trying to strike up banal conversation with this dude who was doing paperwork. 

The Guy: Man, what day … it’s gorgeous
Paperwork Dude: (distractedly) ….mmm hmmm….
The Guy: Man I tell ya, as I get older the days get longer and the nights get shorter (note: it could have been longer nights and shorter days.  It doesn’t matter because it was drivel all the same)
Paperwork Dude: (worried that this guy would keep talking) …um yeah…

Mercifully, the guy’s wife showed up and he began to regale her with that it was which he regaled her with.  She, used to his predilection to chitchat I suppose, kept reading her book and giving him the occasional nod of assent.  When a second older couple came by with their dog, didn’t the guy make a huge production of how beautiful the dog was, how thirsty he looked, petting him and saying “what a good boy” he was.  Honest to God, dude said “what a good boy” no less than 50 times over the course of the 10 or 15 minutes (no hyperbole) where I was waiting for my woman.  He even took it upon himself to fetch the dog a bowl of water which the dog proceeded not to drink: I think even the dog was getting sick of being made so much of.
   Anyway, my woman arrived and we hung out for a bit but after about 20 minutes or so we decided to head back home and make a baby dinner.  I don’t know how it started or at what point we were got caught up in it, but somewhere along the way we were trapped by the guy telling us about the cat he used to have that was really big.  As he proceeded to tell us about other mundane wicked awesome aspects of his life I had a thought that perhaps this was a chance to prove that everyone has something interesting to contribute, and I started listening in a more engaged manner. (mistake)  Indeed, the guy proved how interesting he was within the first 2 minutes with some cool anecdotes….but then he kept talking for 45 goddamn minutes, willfully unaware that my woman and I were on our bikes ready to go.  His wife interjected twice throughout that period, “honey you should let them go so they can go have dinner/dont get caught in the rain,” but somehow he glazed over this and just kept fucking going.  Even thinking about it now makes me mad and its partly anger at myself for being unable to end the conversation politely.  Politely is the operative word here; I could have said “dude, I gotta jet,” or “fuck your lifestory with an AIDS dick” while he was mid-sentence and broke out of there, but at the 15 minute-mark I felt emotionally invested in this one-way conversation (oh yeah, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise) and I was gonna be damned if I left with him thinking I was the rude prick.
   So let me pass on the story of the guy named Rob for posterity, in case he should never again accost a hapless stranger and blather incessantly in his ear.

-he used to have a cat that weighed 20 lbs
-he rescued the cat from a creek in Texas; it was in a bag weighted with rocks to kill the litter.  his is the only one that survived
-the cat like to be picked up by its tail
-the cat liked water
-he used to be a trucker; he even showed me his 3,000,000 safe miles driven ring
-he has three kids; the older two are kind of bums he doesnt get along with and the youngest is blind
-his wife is his best friend (he really laboured this point)
-he used to be a Navy SEAL (he said they were called “Frogmen” back in the day, but he may have been using the term SEAL too loosely; I wasnt aware that Canada had an equivalent.  Will have to check historical accuracy of that claim)
-while a SEAL, he worked disarming WW2 sea mines east of Gibraltar
-in the 1960s his mine disarming team had a Jamiacan expat (a black dude) join them.  Bunking with our protagonist, the Jamaican introduced himself by his rank and surname, Chief Black, and stuck out his hand.  Rob (who was also a chief and whose last name was “White”) did the very same.  Racially fuelled hilarity ensued
-In 1961 a sea mine exploded while Rob was underwater untethering it.  Hiw whole team died and he was in a coma for 13 months and 4 days
-Rob spent 4 years relearning how to walk
-Rob has fake teeth, a plate in his head and wires in his neck as a result of the sea mine exploding
-Rob’s wife started running at 48, and in the 17 years since then she has accrued numerous medals for running
-Rob’s wife wasn’t bad for a 65 year old (more an observation of my own)
-Rob can kill a man applying pressure to any of 7 pressure points located on the head using just his fingers
-Rob almost had occasion to kill a man during a recent night on the town but after using his most menacing, threatening voice the man backed down
-Ironically, Rob is all about respect
-Rob beat up his older brother when they were kids and the older brother is still scared of him

I think you get the idea.  And if that didn’t quite take you 45 mintues to read, just know that he related every story more than once and was not so concise in his telling as I am in my transcribing.
   If you look at these factoids, the sum of a man’s life, you will see that they are of varying degrees of interest to historians such as myself.  Some are cool, some are mundane, and some sound like Chuck Norris facts.

 I did this sketch of Rob from memory.
Why this is problematic to me is because I have it in my head that people are either interesting or dull or somewhere between.  Whatever they be, the stories they tell, whether by virtue of content or presentation, should all be of relatively equal interest: either you can spin a yarn or you can’t; either you’ve had interesting experiences or you haven’t.  Here was instead a guy who, to his very core, refused to fit with my conception of people.  My reactions to his stories ranged from “damn, that’s crazy” to “oh my fuck! is this guy still fucking talking!?”  
   It’s an unsettling prospect having your worldview challenged, but all part of the lifelong learning process I suppose.  Far more unsettling is that as I write this I realize that I have been the exception to my worldview all along: I would presume to say I’ve told an interesting story or two (more as a result of having good subject matter than an innate ability to spice the anecdote up), but I am also painfully aware that I have told stories which have fallen on unreceptive ears, and that upon later recollection, it occurred to me that I was just talking pointless bullshit.  So I guess I owe Rob a small debt for contributing to my knowledge of self in some small way.  That said, the fucker still delayed my dinner!
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo


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