While we may not like ourselves that much, we do spend an awful lot of time and energy and thoughts on ourselves. After all, this is the only show we’ve got to watch. We can’t look through someone else’s eyes or feel someone else’s bug bites.
And there are days when we’re so into our show that we do forget that there are millions of other characters. The average show will consist of us talking to someone, listening to someone, going through a routine or plan, eating, drinking and going to sleep. But sometimes the show is hijacked. We find ourselves doing not only what we didn’t want to, but being forced to put the whole damned show on hold for some character who thinks they’re more important than us, the star. In the early seasons of our shows, that was school or church or grandparent visits or those family dinners that never ended and all you wanted to do was go bounce on the trampoline.
But the interruptions get weirder and more unexpected as you get older.
I had a very long, very exhausting weekend. I was tired, I was really sad. I didn’t want to be going to work, let alone awake. I was mid-mope and four steps from the entrance to Whole Foods when a man looked up and made eye contact with me, with an open and simple, “Hey.” “Good morning,” I said, turning to get a grocery cart. He stopped, looked me again, directly in the eyes, and seemed to realize something. “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were somebody I knew. I’m Solomon.” This conversation had already gone on ten seconds too long for me. I nodded with a slight smile, but the guy followed me to my cart and said, “Where are you from? I’m from Brazil.”
Press pause on the life-DVR for a moment. I’ve been hit on by both genders fairly often in Beverly Hills, and I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with very stubborn members of the homeless community, but this guy was neither. The man was very open, very happy, very lucid, and respected my personal space. The sweet man just wanted a conversation. Which is what made the whole thing so much more uncomfortable.
“LA, mostly.” Having gotten my cart, I headed for the entrance.
“Wow, that’s great. So you know this area well? You like it here?” Not willing to be totally rude yet, I agree and try to let the silence drag on enough to show I’m not really up for chit chat. The man plows on, “Do you like Brazilian parties?”
“I was a camp counselor for a couple of Brazilian [lie, they were Colombian] kids a few summers back, great culture. I’m sure your parties are great. Really open, nice people.”
“Yeah. Hey…I’d really like to give you my number, so we could have a party some time.”
Alarm bells go off, I head toward the store with a “No thanks, have a great day, though.” At this point, I was proud of myself for sticking with that conversation for so long. After all, he didn’t know how I was feeling, and I was really just pleased that I hadn’t collapsed in public. The fact that I gave a stranger that much airtime was impressive, I thought.
He wasn’t done.
“Wait, where are you going?”
“Ah, I gotta get these groceries for work. Have a nice day.”
“But I’d like to give you my number, we could hang out.”
“I appreciate that,” I said, getting my first foot inside the store, “but I’ve really got to get going. Have a nice day.”
“Look man, I just want to talk and you’re being really rude right now.”
Low blow. Wasn’t ready to be accused of a social faux pas at 8:30am. Rallying, I mumble, “I don’t mean to be rude, I just want to shop. I’m sorry, have a nice day.”
“Why wouldn’t you want to come to a party?”
“I…well…. I just don’t have time, okay? I need to get going.”
And I left the guy there, looking totally crestfallen. What the hell, right? I am suddenly the villain in my own TV show. I can hear the audience booing me, and the resounding “aaawwww” when I look back and see the poor guy is still standing at the entrance. Shit. He’s still standing there, sad puppy face and all.
I move on, get the things I need, and try to shake off the feeling that I am somehow the bad guy in a situation where a stranger just offered to party before I’d had coffee. By the time I get in line to pay, I’ve convinced myself going to a party with Solomon would’ve landed me in a cage in Tijuana or liver-less in an Inglewood gutter.
That is, until the guy comes out of the back room of Whole Foods, taking off his Whole Foods apron and getting back to his shopping cart ten feet from me. He’s not the creep, ladies and gentlemen, I am.
As I leave, he’s fiddling with some yogurt in his cart by the entrance. I stop, sigh and say, “Hey, Solomon. That was shitty of me. Full disclosure, I’m really feeling awful in a lot of ways right now, didn’t mean to take it out on you. Give me your number, dude. Let’s hang out.” Solomon’s face lights up like a Christmas tree plugged into a car battery and he grabs a peice of paper and proudly gives me his info.
Solomon never asked for mine. The man gave his info, time and smiles freely.
And maybe he is a crazy person. Maybe he has every intention of drugging me and eating me with that yogurt he bought. That could be the definition of a Brazilian Party. But maybe he’s a genuinely great guy who was looking for a friend.
After that kind of life lesson, it’s pretty hard to get back to your regularly scheduled programming. Thank you, Solomon.