Some of the best times that I've had in my life have come about completely unexpectedly. Yesterday, after an exhausting day, I was sitting outside in front of a neighborhood bistro, enjoying a glass of red wine and my solitude when, all of a sudden, two younger women with suitcases in tow sat down at a table next to mine. Despite the fact that it's never peaceful or quiet on First Avenue and 61st Street (in Manhattan) I was able to tune out the traffic and occasional blowing horns. (I guess I'm used to the cacophony of Manhattan noise.) I was slightly annoyed that these women were going to encroach upon my peaceful environment. Within, approximately, three minutes, they asked me if I would take their picture. I did. I asked them where they were from and they told me that they were visiting from Toronto. Well, all I had to hear was the mention of Canada and we were off and running, kind of like the horses at the Kentucky Derby. You see, my sweet father had been born in Canada and I felt an immediate kinship with these women. When I told them that I was, as one of them put it, half Canadian, they felt a kinship with me. Soon afterwards, three of their friends joined us. One of the new women asked if I minded if she sat at my table. I didn't mind, at all, so she sat down. What happened after that was truly delightful: I proceeded to tell the women how wonderful New York is and how much I love (to be more accurate, love/hate) it. Most people who live in Manhattan have a love/hate relationship with it: we're boxed in like rats in a cage and there is that ever-present noise, not to mention the stench of the humid summertime garbage. I told the Canadian women how I always get a rush of excitement when I land in New York when I travel. I don't know whether it's the idea of being home or the ever-present remembrance of how exciting life is in Manhattan or a combination of the two.
Then, I told them a true and entertaining (I made it entertaining) story of how a movie star-like gorgeous man had once bet me that I couldn't carry his golf clubs. When I rose to the challenge, as I usually do, his response was "How much?" I had to think for two minutes or so as I didn't want to quote a price that he would pay just so that he'd prove a point and win the bet. So, my response was "$1,000!" Although this Roman god-like man could have easily afforded the $1,000, he was smart enough, or kind enough, not to take me up on the challenge and was silent. (Frankly, I would have carried his golf bag for $1,000 even if I would have come back from this ridiculousness hunched over and in pain. I suspect that he, somehow, sensed that. I was much younger, then, and would not have backed down from the challenge.) The women enjoyed my story.
Then, we proceeded to talk in groups. I learned two things that I didn't know: one was that if you go to a sophisticated restaurant in London, you should never ask to sit on the patio or outside. You'll be told, in a condescending tone, that it's not that kind of establishment. There are pronounced social classes in London and those classes don't mingle with each other; I, also, found out that in Paris, if you're sitting, outdoors, at a bistro, you'll pay more for your food for a seat closer to the street! I could have lived my entire life without knowing these factoids, however, as I love learning new things, no matter how irrelevant they are, this new information was very welcome.
My conversation with the lovely ladies from Toronto lasted anywhere from 20 - 30 minutes, however, when I walked into my apartment building, the young doorman, with whom I sometimes chat, saw the huge smile on my face and I practically chirped "Hello" to him. I had had so much fun chatting with these lively, engaging women and it had been such a delightful pick-me-up as I had been utterly exhausted before I met them.
You never know where or from whom your next fun-filled moments are coming and if you're completely closed off and don't enjoy these snippets of opportunities that lead to nothing but fun, as they come along, you wind up missing out on some of life's very enjoyable moments and, also, missing out on learning some seemingly-useless bits of information that, if inserted into a conversation about the Brits, the French, travel or restaurants, can make you a hit at the next cocktail party or networking session that you attend.