A few weeks ago I met a very old friend at the library checkout. By “very old” I mean we went to elementary school together, and I’d maybe seen her physically once in the last seven years, and communicated less frequently. We were both delighted to bump into each other again, and chattered so much that the guard ordered us into the vestibule to continue our conversation. Ten minutes later he reappeared to kick us out into the rain. We agreed to get in touch via Facebook and meet up for pizza some time in the future, and parted ways.
Two weeks ago I sat down in biology class, not knowing a single soul there. The professor was the sort who enjoys shocking his audience with strange but true facts, and while grinning appreciatively at a particularly entertaining fact, I caught the eye of another woman. This happened a few times, and after class we introduced ourselves and chattered all the way to the library and back, hashing over everything from personal histories to mass transit strategies. We ended up lab partners, and started swapping copious emails.
A few weeks ago I met Bas~Melech and Scraps for ice cream. One I’d met once before, the other never. Yet we had no trouble filling two solid hours in loquacious companionship, and could have kept going, but time was a-passing.
Compare the above to what I observed this past motzai Shobbos, watching the daters in the Marriott. They sat attentively and politely, taking turns talking, swapping stories or ideas in hushed tones with little laughter. Compare the above to some of my own dates: searching for something to say, deciding if it ought to be said, and then formulating how to say it. Cracked jokes that land awkwardly and die uncomprehended; questions greeted warily, considered carefully, and answered cautiously; or stories received with a restrained similitude of the natural reaction. I have no trouble striking up lengthy conversations with strangers on street corners; why is it so hard to talk on a date?
(My own answer(s) forthcoming, but feel free to steal my thunder – it’s been done before.)