Wednesday, January 09, 2008

buh! (aka "the most wonderful place in the world")

For the past 2 weeks or so, I have been mostly alone. Not in the “I am an island, let me float” sort of way but in the “everyone at university is on vacation. I have no one to talk to” sort of way. Yesterday, this changed as I went to an event where there were (gasp!) more than 12 people. It was an evening spent playing scrabble in a pub. I knew the organiser and a few other people but I didn't know the people I was sat next to.

It was therefore rather disconcerting to be on the end of a rather tough Q&A session from the person who was sat next to me. I was asked what I did, why I did what I did, why I was not interested in the political primary (because I don't vote and was waiting for the Daily Show to tell me all about it later), what the US rules for choosing a President are (umm...thanks), what are the rules in my country and a long, insistent (and repeated) question about what my favourite place in the world is (and why).

This last question turned into a long harangue about how I was not passionate and was “very reserved” because I answered that there wasn't anywhere that I'd been that I'd not liked. Well, there hasn't been. Person told me I “should have feelings one way or another”. I kept saying, “well, saying I like most places is a feeling”. Then, I was asked “so why are you here then? In the United States?” Fair enough but I hadn't actually expected to be grilled on my reasons for being in the United States when all I had in mind was a few drinks, scrabble and listening to people's stories about what they were up to. I was (thankfully) rescued when one of the people I knew showed up (I may have almost fallen on their neck and wept with joy in reaction )

My question is: When did we decide that “oh, it's all right” as a response to a question was not enough and, instead, one has to write poems praising (with passion!) or detesting places (and things). Just saying, “oh, it's okay” or “not too bad” seems inadequate and feelings are asked for. As a frequent "barfly" (as Fanny calls it), I like listening to people's tales about what they've done and where they've been but only if they are keen on chatting. And, if they say "oh, I like it here", I think "well, of course" and move on. It's also a reciprocal exchange, not a grilling.

At the pub I usually go to watch football, most of the patrons are from overseas. We mostly ignore each other (except when cursing various teams or criticising the ref), we grunt and nod if we catch each other's eyes and we watch the matches. There's a lot of cursing and yelling but no Q&A session or questions about why we are in the USA. It's the perfect social activity for me, I reckon. (I answered, "why not?" in case yous are interested )

No comments: