Friday, December 11, 2009

Nice to Meet You Too

A friend of mine made a comment to me recently about my rapidly growing circle of expat and local friends here...and about the absurd level of random activity in my daily life. Making friends is a funny thing though. I'm at the same time very outgoing and completely socially awkward.

I remember at university there was always a steady flow of ice breaker games to be played...always new opportunities to meet people in the admissions office, your dorm, classrooms, every student group, etc.
Of course, as an active over achiever, I joined every organization who would take me, so I had to sit through a lot of three truths and a lie and writing "fun facts" about myself on notecards.

Sadly, I really wasn't that interesting of a person. I'd always use the same stories over and over again. The go-to one consistently being: "I got in a fight with Jerry Springer once." (true story)

I hate answering questions about my favorite films, music and books. I always freeze up, and it's like I've never seen a film, heard a song or read a book in my life. My Facebook profile page is empty for this reason. I also don't like the idea of people judging me based on such random preferences. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the book and movie version with Gene Wilder) for some reason always pops into my head first, but then I don't want to sound too childish and gluttonous.

In Chinese class, my teacher asked me this question recently while we were practicing our basic Mandarin vocab, and I went through this same mental exercise but blurted out my next thought: "umm...wo xihuan kan (I like to watch)...Kungfu Panda."

Perhaps I should just accept the fact that I AM childish and gluttonous.

The backpacker documentary I watched last weekend had a section about the five questions all backpackers ask each other when they first meet. I've gotten quite accustomed to my personal top five -- my expat version of the ice breaker game.

1. Where are you from? (Please note that this conversation usually takes place in my crappy Mandarin.)

2. Oh, not Japan? You look Japanese. But...where are you your family?

3. What are you doing here?

4. So why don't you speak Chinese already? Your parents didn't teach you?

5. How long have you been here and how long are you staying?

The other day I met a fellow and, after a bit of back and forth, the conversation launched into a sixth question:

6. Soo...other than eating and cooking, yoga, rock climbing, learning the ukulele and studying Chinese, what do you like to do? Long pause. Expectant stare. Blank stare. Boredom.

Seriously!? I couldn't think of anything else. All that is still not enough? I just added the last three to the list pretty recently too. What does it take these days to be an interesting person? I thought surely I had it by now.

Maybe I should have told him that I got in a fight with Jerry Springer once.


  1. So how is the ukulele thing going? The beauty of a musical instrument is that you no longer have to be interesting, because your instantly cool.

    "My favorite what? who cares - watch me play Blackbird and croon."

  2. Ha ha. Thanks, Aaron! The uke is getting more neglected than I would like. Soon I will be cool enough to interrupt annoying comments mid-conversation with my rendition of Blackbird...soon.