I had an odd experience earlier. I was at a school (Union) event, walking side by side with a friend while slurping a melting chocolate ice-cream, when she suddenly gasped in delight and rushed forward. She embraced a guy who was beaming as brightly as her. In the resultant flurry of happy laughs, I learnt they were old friends who had not seen each other for a few years. They launched straight into reminiscing with great fervour, drifting away into their own corner figuratively and physically.
I was left standing there not quite sure how to react – after all, it was their moment. So, I turned my attention to his friend, who was in the same predicament as me. He had turned his back to me, occupying himself with a performance onstage. Since it was part of my duties anyway, I whipped out my phone and asked him to complete a survey about the event. He politely obliged, before asking a question about the Union, which in turn led me to snap into Student Representative mode and blabber away. He followed with more questions, and I more answers, and so a tenuous back-and-forth was born under the blessing of the music in the background.
Anyone who knows me well enough realises I’m the awkward type. I typically compensate for it by rambling so there are no uncomfortable silences, but there wasn’t a need with this guy. He caught on to the trails in my sentences, added his own flair, and hit them back into my court seamlessly. Earlier in the day I had brushed shoulders with an old friend: yet when we made eye contact, the shared recognition that we had nothing to say to each other hung sombrely in the crowded silence between us. On the other hand, there I stood with a stranger, bantering away.
Still, he didn’t strike me as the smooth-talking, charismatic type – perhaps it was this disjuncture that made our encounter stand out in my memory. We were yelling at each other over the music half the time, yet the conversation progressed organically without me feeling like I had to say something for the sake of it. That and he kept telling me that I had chocolate ice-cream all over my mouth, the mere thought of which continues to make me cringe in embarrassment.
I never asked for his name. He says that since my friend knows his friend, we’ll probably see each other again. I don’t think so, though. But it was fun while it lasted.