At my work bus-stop in the afternoon, I often run into an aging Austin hippie (I'm almost 50, he's about 60) who has a job about on my level, who's been in Austin about as long as I have (30 + years). He's always chock full of news about what bands/events he just saw or is about to see. Which is fine. Except he then always asks ME, expectantly, about what I just did or am about to do. He's been asking me this for 6 months now. Six months ago, I was full of opinions about my new apartment and new neighborhood, etc. (He's on some sort of self-appointed Austin neighborhood council, so that satisfied him for a while.) Now, though, I've been in my new apartment/'hood for 4 months and so have nothing new to share. When he asks, as he did this Friday, what I'm going to do for the weekend, my answer is usually: "Work on my Joan Crawford website and organize my apartment. And maybe go to a consignment shop. And the grocery store. And maybe do laundry. And maybe go into work for a few hours to catch up."
Today at the bus-stop, he was happily telling me about bands that he'd gone to see the night before with his 20-something daughter. I forget the club he said he went to, but at it, he knew as many people as his daughter did, he was proud to tell me. He also enjoyed the 2-mile full-moon walk home afterward with his daughter, where they shared "theories of the world."
That's cool! Hey, I just shared on this blog my excitement over my recent hour-long conversation with a co-worker about how civilization is going to end, so I understand how wonderful it is to communicate. I truly miss that. But this guy, though, isn't just a "laid-back" kinda guy. He's an aggressively laid-back kinda guy. With a person genuinely interested in communicating, I could have responded to his pleasant "walking home with his daughter and talking" story with my own heart-felt good feelings about the hour-long conversation I just had with my co-worker about life--the first such conversation I'd had in years. I, though, got the definite impression that he wouldn't have been interested in my meager story, which didn't involve a club or "bonding-with-the-younger-generation" or a full moon.
I feel that I disappoint this fellow. I'm amused by this because I feel that he's also searching for surface reasons to be disappointed in me: I've been in Austin as long as he has and know as much about the town...I used to love going out to see bands, and now I just don't feel like hanging out with 20-year-olds any more... The very last thing in the world that I might now want to do, for instance, is hang out at SXSW, which I once did in the '90s and don't need to ever do again, especially now that it's populated by big generic acts and big prices, which was not at all the point of the festival to begin with.
This guy means relatively well. But he's stuck in his "Austin schtick": "I go see bands and events. And what do YOU do?" To me, the more subtly interesting mindset would be to actually listen to what those around you have to say...and to have something that you're interested in other than trying to prove you're still "youthful."
At the end of today's going-nowhere-bus-stop conversation that continued on the bus, he asked me if he could "Friend" me on Facebook! Jesus. Sure. Whatever. WHY? (When I approved his request later tonight, I saw that he had 900+ Friends. I have 32. OK, 32 is anti-socially low (but honest). 900+ is a number reserved for kids who import their entire graduating class. Oh well. He's implied that I'm not as well read as he is: Now that he's on my Facebook page, let him wallow in what I really like. Maybe that's what he wanted all along. I hope it'll either guide his future attempts at conversation or else shut him the fuck up.)