Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lets Get Real, Folks

The Dukester and I went on a mini-adventure today.  We went to the dog park!

There were big dogs and little dogs, and Duke was the biggest, although he didn't know it (sweet thing, doesn't even know how to spell b-e-a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e, let alone challenge another dog).  They ran around, sniffing each other and wrestling, sliming  and drooling and barking and playing.  Basically, it was a dog's day, and what a day Duke had.  

And while the puppies were running around and playing, having the time of their lives, this is what their humans were talking about:

"Hi!  Which one is yours?"
"Oh, she sure is a cutie, whats her name?"
"Wow, he's so big, how old is he?"
"Oh, mine doesn't like to chew shoes, she prefers paper"
"He looks just like mine used to!  Oh, I miss my baby dog!" (this was me, I'll admit)
"Wow, your pup certainly likes to run!"
"Man, he's all muddy.  Looks like someone needs a bathy-wath!"

And so on.  Ad nauseum, if I may.

Do you know what this was?  Superficial.  Small talk.  I stood around for 40 minutes with these people, and I don't know anyone's name.  Sure, I know Shelby (German short-haired pointer) loves to chase balls and Darby (Mutt) looks just like Duke did when he was little, and Suzy (Mini Schnauzer) was adopted 4 months ago.  But as far as actually meeting people, getting to know them, forming relationships; nothing.  Nada.  Zip, zilch, butkiss.  

And this annoys me.  

I am bored by these interactions.  It is the same when I go jogging. 
"Nice dog" 
"Gee thanks" 
"How old is he?" 
"1 year old, dumb as a rock." 
"Thats not nice" 
"Yeah I know.  See you never again."  
And done.  

Now, this business is bad enough to make we want to offer to watch other people's dogs so Duke can socialize and I don't have to.  But it gets worse, every Sunday morning when its repeated during the "Greet your neighbor, and say you're excited to worship with them today," part of the church service. 

"Good morning!"
"Good to see you!"
"Excited to worship with you!"
"God bless!"

The words are different, but its the same situation: shallow.  And equally obnoxious.  Now, please know that this is not a bash-the-church, christians-are-fakers, passing-the-peace-is-lame post.  Nope.  Not at all.  I love church.  I love the body (people), the traditions (singing, giving, passing of the peace), and the preaching.  But I'm tired of the shallow interactions.  I want to get to know people at church.  This is difficult, mostly due to the size of the church I attend.  But it is not impossible.

I was inspired one morning when a sweet woman next to me took the extra minute during the regular "hello" to actually introduce herself and talk for a moment.  Honestly, I don't remember her name.  (Which may seem backwards to what I'm saying here.  But please stick with me on this.)  But her forwardness and openness with me made me feel so... welcomed.  So... known, recognized.   She was at this church for the first time (!!?!!), and she had made me feel welcomed.  Well.  Would you look at that.

And so, inspired, I tried it out the next week, while jogging.  Met a guy who also had his dog out for a walk.    Our dogs started sniffing eachother, and I stuck out my hand and introduced myself.  His name was Clark.  And he seemed nearly as genuinely happy as I was to really MEET someone.  

Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone make it a habit of meeting strange men.  Not at all :)

But what I'm taking away from these events, and what I suggest you think about as well, is this:
While you sit there, uncomfortable and unsure of yourself, waiting to be reached out to, someone else, say, 3 rows over, is also feeling unnoticed and nervous.  And really, introducing oneself is not intrusive or rude.  Just the opposite!  It is polite and evidence of good manners to introduce oneself.  You never know when you'll meet your new best friend.
And while I realize that last line up there ^ was totally corny, it should also ring with a little bit of truth.   So I'm going to take an extra step or two this weekend, out of my comfort zone, and try to actually connect with another human being, and not just comment on their shoes or their taste in pet attire.  Invite someone over for dinner, or to meet you for dinner.  The art of hospitality is disappearing.  Don't let it!  I challenge you (and me) to introduce yourself and/or invite people over for dinner... twice in May.  You've got a little bit of time to think about it (2 days to be exact), and then its go time.

What do you think this will do?  Will it be awkward?  Will it initiate a friendship?  Will it make you want to crawl in a hole and proclaim yourself to be without social skills?  I know I often feel that last one there.  But there have been a few times when it wasn't awkward.  And there have been a few friendships that started this way.  And I have yet to need an actual hole to crawl into.  Who knows?  Maybe this might just make something happen.

Taking back good manners,


  1. SO proud of you! I'll take that challenge and I might not even wait until May.

  2. Thank you for being an inspiration and an encouragement. I do expect a follow-up post about how this goes for you.

  3. I love this idea! Miranda and I started hosting Monday Night Dinners at our house for this very reason. It's a smashing hit! :)


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