There was a lull in the conversation. Actually, there were several conversations going on all around me, but somehow I seemed to be on the outskirts of each one. I started with the one on my left and listened quietly to each one to figure out which one was the most interesting. One hundred and eighty degrees of boring conversations later, I realized that the girl to my right was doing exactly the same thing. I decided that I would start my own conversation, and I would make it interesting.
"So. Tell me about yourself."
Yup. I guess my idea of starting a conversation is to sound like a job interviewer or perhaps someone on a blind date. It seemed like an appropriate thing at the time. I sorta knew this person. She was the new roommate of some people I did know, and we had been introduced. However, if pressed to give her name, I would look panicked for a minute before guessing something really common in the hopes that she was one of the 750,000 Sarahs in the world. Had I not known her at all, I would have gone with "So. Who are you?" When I'm not complaining about other people being boring, I like to be awkward.
Since I demanded it, Sarah (we're just going with that now) told me about herself. I learned that she was from Alabama and had an English degree, but was spending time here to establish residency so she could get into UNCG's Master of Library Science program. I pounced on that bit, asking what her grand ambitions were with regards to Librarianing, but found out that she had just hated teaching and wasn't sure what to do next, so was gonna go back to school while the economy was so bad. I was disappointed. I was really hoping that she was just a vessel for a hot ball of Dewey Decimal System passion. I really wanted to meet someone who was enthusiastic about being a librarian. Maybe someday I will.
If I was disappointed about her lack of card catalog conviction, I was surprised to find that, with very little prompting, Sarah will give you a spirited spiel on the virtues of Huntsville, Alabama. I am very much in favor of embracing your roots, so I encouraged it. She was ecstatic to find out that I had heard of her hometown. Seriously, the fact that I had merely heard of the place was enough to make her day, because I guess no one else in Raleigh had. Sensing that I was obviously also het up about Huntsville, she informed me of the ridiculousness of everyone else's ignorance of it. Space Camp is there! I mean, Space Camp! Duh.
I feel her pain. People in Raleigh make fun of me for being some kind of backwoods mountains hick, no matter how many times I try to explain that I'm from the foothills (It's different, okay?). I imagine they all figure that any town in Alabama not named Mobile might as well be named Podunk (okay, maybe Mobile, too). Us folks in the Shallow South like to think that we are better than the Deep South. You know, the good cooking and the hospitality, but only a little bit redneck and racist. I do have a redneck past, and Sarah probably does, too, but redneck pasts are all relative. Bless her heart, far away from home and being treated like a bumpkin by a bunch of kids attending agricultural college and playing cornhole.
You never know what you might learn when you start a conversation. I learned a lot about Huntsville. They have missiles. Perhaps I could have cheered her up by pointing out that there are probably a bunch of people in Pakistan who knew about Huntsville. They also have Marshall Space Center, and, of course, Space Camp (duh). At that point, someone from another conversation sensed that ours was more intersting than the one they were engaged in, and then Sarah was forced to say that she had never been to Space Camp. Then that person learned about Huntsville, too.
Maybe if that whole librarian thing doesn't work out, she could go work for the Huntsville travel bureau.