Saturday, January 14, 2012

Making friends in unexpected ways

I went to Heide's house today to a tea to celebrate her birthday. It's been a longish time since I went anywhere that I knew only the host and hostess, and I had to consciously brush off my social skills and engage people I'd never met.

I am not a gregarious person in new settings. Until I had children I was a closet introvert: I could successfully fake extroversion -- or at least sociability -- but vastly preferred reading books at home. A decade or so of hanging out at playgrounds chit-chatting with other mothers expanded my comfort zone considerably. I suspect that age played a role, too, because I eventually figured out that although most people were naturally more sociable they were also less secure, and that made talking to strangers less intimidating. And so I evolved into a creature approximating an extrovert. (My children will be shocked to learn I was not always like this: they know me only as the mother who knows everyone.)

Nonetheless, when I walked into the room today and saw that a) it was a small group of people, and b) I didn't know any of them, I had a momentary rush of adrenaline. Then I reminded myself that I am who I am, and no new social situation is going to lessen me. And I remembered that since these were Heide's friends I would probably find them interesting. Which I did. One woman, a professor whose specialty is 20th century British literature, felt like an instant old friend. That is a rare occurrence. And a happy one.

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In the car on the way back (for my new friend gave me a ride home) I mentioned that our family had met Heide's through her husband Doug. I'd almost forgotten that; people assume that since Little Guy and Heide's Offspring are friends, we must have met on the playground. But back when Eldest was about 10, she and Big Guy were in a children's theater production of The Tempest. Eldest played Caliban, and Big Guy one of the lesser noblemen. After the performance a man came up to me and asked if I was Caliban's mother. I nodded warily; he said he was doing an indie film of the medieval Everyman play, and he would like Eldest to read for a small part in it. Hmmm. Is this a scam?

No, it was for real. Eldest did read for the part and got it, and Big Guy ended up with a part, too. It was on the day they were filming in the park nearby that I met Heide, who was helping Doug out. It's not often you make friends with someone because you happen to meet her during a movie shoot. Or at least it hasn't been a frequent occurrence for me.

(You can see a trailer for Doug's Everyman here; my kids are in the one-second flicker of the first scene, in the foreground to the right as Everyman walks down the road.)

1 comment:

  1. Funny - I met Heide at YOUR birthday party. :)