While waiting at one of my bus stops today, a graying guy came over to wait. As he approached, he looked down at the side of a concrete post and said, "Oh, cool! Some kids have stenciled [some Star Wars characters that I'd never heard of]!" Then he walked over to the other side: "And look! Over here they did The Three Stooges!" He looked around cheerfully at the other three of us sitting/standing there.
No one else paid him any mind, so I answered (kind of liking his enthusiasm): "Do you have a camera with you so you can get pictures?" (Because, see, that's exactly what I like to do -- get "found" shots like that. Only, I hardly ever remember to carry my camera with me whenever I go out on errands.)
"No," he said, "but I DO have my cell with me! The shots won't be great, but I can post them on my blog!" (Sadly, I forget the name of it now. Something about "Austin Street Photos," though that's not the exact name. But gee, that's what I like to do -- post photos on my blog.)
Me: "Well, I'd get up and look at the stencils themselves, but I'm too lazy to move right now."
Him: "Don't worry. Let me get them on my phone and I'll show 'em to you. We're on the verge of a complete matriarchal society anyway. Women shouldn't have to do anything. Boy, 2012's just around the corner."
OK, the "matriarchal society" part was getting a little weird. But still, it was kind of nice to have someone thinking that just because I was a woman, I shouldn't have to move my lazy ass off the bus-stop bench -- he'd bring his photos to me! Which he did. Wooooo! (Not-that-interesting art by the stenciler, though public art is always mildly interesting; nice to not have to move.)
And I must admit that I am curious about the Mayan "the end of the world" date of December 21, 2012, though I wasn't about to encourage that kind of conversation with a strange guy at a bus stop. Then he went on in the astrological (and I guess "matriarchal power") vein: "Oprah and I have the same birthday. Though she was born 3 years sooner." Again, I'm very interested in people's birthdays and also who shares birthdays with whom. Caution precluded me from revealing my own to him and giggling about Hulk Hogan sharing mine (or mentioning that the Mayan calendar also said the world began on OUR -- mine and Hulk's -- birthday...). But I did nonetheless ask him what birthday he and Oprah shared: January 29.
Him: "I don't know if you know anything about astrology..."
Me: "I do."
Him: "... but I'm an Aquarius, and I also have Aquarius rising."
Me: "My moon is in Aquarius."
Him: "[singing] 'When the moon is in the Seventh House...' You know what scene always gives me goosebumps? The very end of 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' when they play that song!"
Me: "I like that, too. The whole movie has good vibes."
(It's true; it does!)
Him: "And you know what else gives me goosebumps? [here he names a song from "Pulp Fiction" that I can't remember] They played this whenever Samuel L. Jackson was quoting from the Bible."
Me: "Did you know that he wasn't quoting exact scripture? [I saw this on TV somewhere] He was saying the gist of it, but not exactly. I wonder if that was part of the character..."
Him: "That would kind of make sense for his character."
Me: "I know! He's very righteous, but not that educated..."
Then the guy goes into Roger Avary, whom I'd never heard of -- a writing collaborator with Tarantino on various projects who never received full acknowledgment, apparently... I didn't know him, but wondered aloud, "Maybe he doesn't care; maybe's he's like Bukowski, just drinking and doing what he does and not caring about any credit..."
Him: "I hope so! That would be better for him!"
And then when we saw the bus coming, we started talking about today's cost of bus fare and Austin rent and then what his grandfather used to pay for things at the turn of the century. He tried to come up with equivalent amounts, without much success, and then I told him about an online Inflation Calculator (www.usinflationcalculator.com) where you could plug in any amount from the past to present to figure out the equivalent rates. I'd always found that handy and interesting to know...
Him: "There's such a thing online? Wow! I'm definitely going to look that up."
Me: "I can't remember the exact address..."
Him: "It doesn't matter. I'll just plug in the key words..."
This whole thing was, seriously, the most interesting conversation I've had in the past 6 months! Veering as it did all over the place, I was still honestly interested in just about every (seemingly) random thing the guy had to talk about: street photos, blogs, matriarchy, end of the world, astrology, movies (music, character motivation, writing/collaboration)...
So, before I got off the bus at my supermarket, did I give the guy my phone number and say let's meet for coffee/a drink? Of course not. Why? #1: He was in his 50s but was wearing Converse low-tops and carrying drumsticks and 2 Bruce Lee DVDs with him. His hair was scraggly and unkempt. (All of the above cute for a college kid in his 20s. Only.) #2: His face looked way too weatherbeaten for his age (signifying either way too much drugs/drinking or too much time spent outdoors -- i.e., some homelessness most likely). #3: In between actual conversation, he muttered way too much to himself (he was 90% coherent, but the other 10% was too much off for comfort). And the matriarchy-thing was too weird.
Had he and I both been in our 20s, I actually would have wanted to go hang out with him to talk for 4 or 6 hours! So why, when I'm 46 and he's in his 50s, was ever meeting up with this guy again (just for conversation, mind you!) completely out of the question for me?
In the same vein: Say Sandra liked my verbal interactions with her online. But... Entertaining as they were, when it comes down to it, I'm a poor woman with no job. Who's going to pay her rent? In my case, with the guy at the bus stop: I can pay my own rent; and I'm grateful for actual communication; but I don't want someone friggin' weirder than me in my life. I can come up with 2012 and movie theories on my own. It's nice to share said theories out loud with someone, but, in the end, I want someone who's more stable than me, someone who's a potential mate. The way I internally blew off this guy was pretty much the way Sandra blew me off, though one took 20 minutes and the other took 2 years.