By Daniel Dunaief
We are on the precipice of a few social evenings. As such, I have prepared the internal and external dialog of one such potential interaction. Yes, some of it reflects my performance in previous gatherings, while other elements are exaggerated versions of what may happen. And away we go:
“Hi Pat, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Dan.”
“Good to meet you, too, Dan.”
Ow, did you have to squeeze my hand that hard? Were you trying to prove something? I get it. You’re bigger and stronger than I am. You probably lift weights and stare at yourself in the mirror at the gym while you listen to Annie’s “Tomorrow.” No, I know you don’t listen to Annie. At least, not in public..
Not that you asked, but I like to sweat in the gym, too. I use the elliptical machine, the bike and the treadmill.
“So, did Maria tell you about me?”
Wait, who’s Maria? Oh, right, your wife, the woman standing next to you. She’s the reason we’re here. Our wives worked together a few years ago and now the four of us are going out to dinner.
Pat is talking about how great he is at bowling.
He wants me to smile, so I’m smiling, but I’m not sure what he said. Maybe it was self deprecating? Nope, doesn’t seem likely. He’s talking about how much his average has gone up since he joined the Thursday night league.
“Good for you,” I say.
He nods appreciatively. Whew! I said the right thing. Go me!
Oh, cool, now he’s talking about how great his son is at tennis. I’m picturing myself scuba diving. I’m looking at him, but I’m imaging fish around me, the warm water, and the bubbles that expand as they head to the surface. Nice! Life is good down here. Oh, wait, he just touched my shoulder. He wants me to say something. Staring into space isn’t enough.
“You know what I’m saying?” he asked.
I’m sorry, no. I don’t know, but I’m going to nod and hope that’s enough. Nope, clearly not.
“Tell me more about your son,” I say.
That’s enough. He’s off to the races with another story about some incredible app his son is working on that already has over 1,000 subscribers. My wife seems to be enjoying Maria’s company. Wait, no, she wrinkled her eyes subtly at me. Uh oh! She knows I’m not paying attention to John. No, that’s not his name. It begins with a P. No, hold on. I’ll get it. It’s Paul.
“So, Dan,” she says, “did Pat tell you about their plans to go to Alaska this summer?”
Pat! Duh. How easy was that? I would have gotten it eventually. No, I wouldn’t. Who am I kidding?
I’m going to focus closely on his story. He’s talking about how much he enjoys vacations. I like vacations.
“Alaska was pretty amazing,” I say, hoping I shared the right sentiment. “We saw whales, drove a dog sled, and ate fresh fish.”
He’s always wanted to go to Alaska. He can’t wait to see the wide open terrain. He wonders whether it’ll be the same 500 years from now.
Assuming the Earth is still here and is habitable, what will humans be talking about and thinking about in 500 years? Will a potentially longer life span mean that future humans will be more patient? Will they think about what our life was like today? They’re as likely to think about us as we are to think about the people who shared the world of 1523.
The evening is almost over. We pay the check and talk about how wonderful it is to to go out together.
“Yes, we should do this again some time,” I say as we head towards the car. Maria and my wife give each other a professional hug – not too long and not too close – while Pat and I share a manly handshake. Pat seems to appreciate the firmer grip.
“Something wrong with your hand?” my wife asks as we walk towards the car.
“Nope, all good,” I say, as I try to bring the circulation back to my fingers.