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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Rendezvous with a Stranger

I had a very interesting experience this afternoon. I had a meeting with a guy — a long-time and well-known Boston-area humorist, actually — to pick up lunch and chat about a few ideas. The chatting and the lunching were certainly interesting — but they weren’t the most interesting part of the experience.

The most interesting part was the actual meeting.

You see, I’d never met this man before. I knew what he looked like, from seeing pictures of him in his online articles. And he knew what I looked like, from the mug shot perched atop this page. But nobody ever looks quite like their photos, so hooking up wasn’t as easy as it might seem.

“I daresay that, unless you’re a client of some ‘lonely hearts’ kinky hookup club, you just don’t find yourself meeting strange men in public places with only a picture and name to guide you.”

Think about it — how often do you find yourself meeting a complete stranger outside the context of your home, office, or circle of friends? In social situations, there’s usually a mutual friend available to introduce you.

(Or, in my case, to remind you over and over what the person’s name is, and whether they have any lawsuits pending against you yet.)

And at the office, it’s even easier. If no one introduces you, it’s no big deal. That’s what business cards and name plates and appointment calendars are for. In most situations, it’s clear who all parties are, even if they’ve never met. We can tell the bosses from the lackeys, the executives from the serfs, and the bootlicking weasels from the boot-wearing other weasels, based on context, cues, and which people have shoe polish dribbling down their chins. In fact, I daresay that, unless you’re a client of some ‘lonely hearts’ kinky hookup club, you just don’t find yourself meeting strange men in public places with only a picture and name to guide you.

So today, when I found myself meeting a strange man in a public place with only a picture and name to guide me, I felt more than a little odd. There was a line outside the place we’d agreet to meet for lunch, which meant all sorts of people milling about. I thought I spotted my man standing alone near the line, but I wasn’t immediately sure. So I stared at him for a good full minute, then shoved my hands in my pocket and approached him.

Um… hi. John?

He looked up and gave me a little smile. It’s possible that he dragged his toe back and forth on the ground, coyly.

Yep, that’s me. Charlie?

I could feel the people around us watching, and probably wondering why the Boston Chapter of the Lonely Hearts Kinky Hookup Club, Man-On-Man Division was filming a commercial outside their taqueria at lunchtime. We couldn’t have looked or felt more awkwardly uncomfortable if we’d just met in a singles bar. Or by the dumpster behind a Chippendales. Or at a glory hole in a Shell station bathroom.

(Okay, I stand corrected. Apparently, we could have felt more awkwardly uncomfortable — like, say, the way I’m feeling now, after the examples I just gave.

I really should learn to leave well enough alone. I am not going to sleep well tonight.)

What I’m saying is, it was pretty awkward. After that initial exchange, I wondered whether my next question should be:

So… who gets to be on top?

Luckily, I didn’t say that. And we had a nice, normal conversation while we waited in line for burritos, which we ate while chatting over a few ideas that were the focus of the meeting. Again, in a nice, perfectly normal, un-lonely hearts kinky hookup kind of way. After the first twelve seconds or so, all that awkward, weird ‘meeting up with strangers’ stuff was forgotten.

Still. He did insist on buying lunch. Which was a very nice gesture, to be sure. But you know what that means.

I would so not get to be on top.

Thank goodness we were only meeting to talk, or I’d have been awfully upset. As it was, I made out with a free lunch, an interesting conversation, and something to write about tonight. Maybe this ‘meeting strange men from the interweb’ thing is okay, after all.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “Rendezvous with a Stranger”

  1. Lori says:

    Welcome to my world – the world of online dating. At least you saw a picture that was taken this millenium.

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