the first time

one night last spring i was walking to my car after yoga when a guy behind me yelled, “that was my first car!”  blissed out from practice i turned around and saw he was looking at me while gesturing toward my black, two-door, VW Golf.  “ohhhhhh,” i said, mentally gearing up for small talk.  

“i love that car!” he continued.  i was about to reply, “everybody does” (once a guy walked me to it at the end of an unfortunate date and commented, “oh yeah, you’ll definitely get laid driving this”) but i was too late. 

he rattled off his story—first car, 1999, lived in Boston (where i thought people survive fine without cars), roll-up windows, cassette deck, no sunroof, still his favorite car—and i just stood there, unable to get a word in edgewise.

then he turned and walked away.  i was dumbfounded as i watched him walk across the parking lot to his BMW.  it wasn’t a conversation at all, really, just a stream of consciousness outpouring from a stranger in a parking lot after yoga class in west LA.  a cardboard cutout of me would have sufficed.

sometimes that’s as good as conversations get in La La Land.  but i wasn’t offended.  since i didn’t need anything from him, i saw this conversational taker objectively.  

i didn’t have an urge to put him in a headlock and say, “great story, bro.  now listen to my automotive autobiography.”

if you come at people on the attack, overpowering and squeezing out others, i want nothing to do with you.  say what’s so important and be on your way. 

as Maya Angelou said, “when someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”