This morning I took my son to the Children’s Museum. One of my summer goals is to put the passes to the museum and the zoo that we have to good use. Not only is a great way for him to play and learn in a safe environment, it’s also a way to get us out of the house.
There was some sort of special event going on when we arrived. A group of official looking people wearing suits and making speeches about an upcoming Egypt exhibit (one that is over a year away from opening) crowded the usual entrance. We had to circumnavigate the crowd and sneak into the museum through the Dinosphere. I’d never been that way before and I have to say, it was pretty cool. I can’t wait until my son is older and really likes dinosaurs so we can spend more time there. As it stands, we spend most of our time on the third floor in the little kids’ play area. It is also cool, if you are under 5.
The good part is that the entrance to the play area for those under five usually has closed doors and a “greeter” so rambunctious little monkeys like mine can’t just run off. Plus, there are tons of things just his size for him to get in to. He can climb without much fear (on my part) of hurting himself and run around all he wants. He splashed at the water table, groped sand, climbed up and slid down all by himself, banged cups on the table in the pretend kitchen, “planted” flowers and pulled a tiny-sized popping plastic lawn mower all over the place. I ran after him, working up a considerable sweat. It was kind of gross.
I also ran into an old acquaintance of mine. When I saw him, I was completely taken aback. I don’t know why really. I knew he had a daughter and that he and his wife lived in Indy. In fact, his wife and I used to be pretty decent friends. His wife and I went to college together and stayed friends well after graduation. In fact, I am also friends with her younger sister. I see her sister at least a couple of times a year at parties and get togethers.
I haven’t seen her in ages though. Not since I accidently ran into her with several of my other old friends one night while getting sushi at our favorite local place. That was awkward since we hadn’t seen each other in at least a year before that and the sushi place is pretty small. We actually sat only one table away from them and after a polite hello, we pretty much went on with our own coversations. I can’t speak for them, but I thought it was a little odd. I mean, we were friends. We’d never had any sort of fight. Heck, I don’t think we’d ever had a disagreement. We lived in the same town, and yet somehow, our group had factioned off and we no longer called each other for book clubs, or invited each other to gatherings. The only way I even found out she was pregnant was through her sister.
It’s wierd running in to someone I used to know. Especially someone I used to be friends with. I always feel the need to make polite small talk, but am never really sure what to say. While we never exactly bared our souls to each other, we did see each other often for several years until one year we just didn’t see each other. It was especially awkward for me today because I was never really friends with her husband, but knew him well enough to feel obligated to make small talk. That obligation was deepened when my son ran away from the water table to the slide and he and his daughter followed only moments later.
Since we are both teachers, we had a little to say to each other. I asked about his summer break so far. He told me about his “new” job (which he’d for a few years). I asked about his wife’s job. He asked if I’d see his sister-in-law’s new baby. We spoke briefly about another mutual friend of sorts who’d actually graduated from the school he currently works at. He seemed very perplexed by that fact, and then amused by it.
Overall, it was a wierd experience. I never know what to do in these situations. I don’t ever want to be the rude person who just walks on by even though we’ve clearly made eye contact. I also don’t want to be the person who unfolds every detail of her life story from the moment we last talked until now. I’m not opposed to possibly renewing old friendships, but I also don’t feel like forcing something that isn’t there. Friendships usually die for a reason, right? Plus, small talk always un-nerves me a bit. It’s not that I want former friends to have good lives. It’s just that I don’t know how much I should care or ask about them. Because one of them might be the gusher and then I’m stuck hearing all about the last four years of their life.
I hate awkward conversations.