17 February, 2011

The Mimi.

I'm sure you all realise it by now, given the tagline on the blog and all, but I live in London. Land of permanent strangers. You're lucky if someone holds a door for you... then again, maybe you're not, because that means that seemingly lovely door holding person is either a tourist who will want directions, or a crazy person who will follow you down the street trying to silence the voices in their head by screaming at you to "REPENT!!!"...

The point of that little diatribe is this. I called The Mimi tonight on my way home from work. She was having lunch in a restaurant with two of her best friends, and after the obligatory "make Gabs really jealous by telling her what lovely American food I just ate that she can't get in the UK" session, she said "I'm going to do something you wouldn't let me do over there."

What did she do, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

She walked over to a total stranger's table in the restaurant and struck up a conversation with the woman. While I was on the phone with her. The instigation of this conversation? The woman was holding a baby.

You see, because I'm sprogging, everyone else's babies are fair game to the people in my life. I get it, it's hit me as well. Now that I'm growing one, babies are everywhere. I can't help but see them, and stare a little, and hope mine will be more attractive or less obnoxious. However, only in Texas could the following conversation take place...

Mimi: "He is so adorable! How old is he?"
Total Stranger: "Thank you! He's three months old."
Mimi: "Three months old?? He's so tiny!"
TS: "He was a preemie."
Mimi: (to me this time) "You'd better hope yours is small." (to the total stranger) "I'm on the phone with my granddaughter, she lives in London and just found out she's pregnant."
TS: "Oh, congratulations!"

And so on, and so forth.

Now, those of you who have lived or currently live in London, imagine this conversation happening in, say, your local Nando's. Can't picture it? Funny, that.

Mind you, this is the same woman who on one of her myriad visits here sat down on the tube next to a lady with wet hair (I would assume because she'd just washed it, which the next part supports fairly admirably). Mimi was struck by an attack of Texan and leaned over to let the lady know that her hair smelled nice... This shining example of London Commuter did not even blink. She was not fazed by this mad American woman commenting on her personal aroma, she was a seasoned Londoner and maintained a stone cold face.

I was in awe, I haven't quite managed the completely blank face, somehow there's always a smirk hiding in there no matter how hard I try... the smirk aggravates the crazies, in case you were wondering. The Mimi? She just looked befuddled as to why this woman didn't seem more pleased that she smelled good.

Sometimes I go slightly unhinged and think I miss Texas for the total stranger conversations... then I remember that I'm always the one who gets the nutters. The lady in Subway, making my sandwich and telling me that it's her dead son's birthday. The couple who ended up at one of the tables in my section letting me in on the fact that they're married, just not to each other, while they eat various bits of their lunches off of each other's faces. The bartender who thinks it's appropriate to inform me that his hobby is taking upskirt photos of girls getting out of cars.

I think the anonymity is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it's nice not to have to talk about where I bought my shoes with every girl that walks down the street. On the other hand, if Himself weren't in the picture, nobody would know I'd died until the smell bothered the neighbours.

Speaking of Himself, I mentioned to him this morning that a cousin told me sour candies quell nausea. He came home bearing two bags of sour sweeties from his favourite candy shop. Thank goodness for the boy (and his amazing capability to live with me on a daily basis without smothering me in my sleep). Our neighbours will never have to move because the smell of my rotting corpse got into the carpets.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. Five years ago (whoa, that went by fast) I stayed in NYC for a month taking some summer classes. I distinctly remember feeling weirded out by everyone's detachment and antisocial behavior. It was like no one else existed, and I am starting to realize that London is the same. I was in Whole Foods in NYC and told some woman I liked her haircut and she looked REALLY weirded out, lol. I held open the door for someone else and they looked at me like they wanted to beat me down like I owed something. I just wanted to see someone's mom at Kroger, okay?! :(

    Haha but you're right, there are pros and cons to anonymous conversations, and true to southern form I prefer the friendliness (minus the crazies).