If you talk to me out on the street, I’ll be friendly to you. If I don’t know, I’ll give you a polite smile and acknowledge your comment. However, whether you can see it on my face or not, I will be trying to get out of the conversation as quickly and politely as possible. Not the Mr. He will talk to you for two hours if you want him to, and he will enjoy every minute of it. Our kids dread having a stranger talk to him, because they know it means waiting forever for him to finish.
When we had our paint your own pottery studio, we joked that it was like Cheers, the bar. We tried to know everyone’s names. Mr. Everything was there most of the time, so he knew more people than I did. The customers would sit and chat with him for hours. If I had been a jealous woman, I would not have survived, because there were many lonely housewives who used my husband as their counselor. He learned many things about many people. (He also saw many pairs of thong underwear hanging out of pants in the back….Girls, seriously. If you’re gonna wear butt floss, pull your pants up. Just sayin’.) Our customers would get to know each other and meet each other at the studio so they could talk to each other and to Mr. E. He had this whole network of friends through the studio, and he enjoyed it. He was good at it, because he would listen to anyone talk about anything, and he was actually listening. (If you talk to me, I’m usually making a grocery list or a to-do list in my mind.)
Yesterday, I saw the ultimate example of this Everything Phenomenon. Mr. E was standing outside the grocery store, filling the water bottles at the filtered water machine. The Beetle and I had gone in to pick up a few things. We came out, and the Mr. and another man were standing there talking about cars. Mr. E was explaining to him why rotors are shaped differently on the back of the car and the front of the car. This man was enthralled in what Mr. E had to say. Then, they chatted about their first cars, about what a shame it is that the Pontiac Firebird is no longer being made, and I’m pretty sure they shifted into their plans for Christmas. (I don’t know. I had blacked out by that point.)
When I finally pulled Mr. E away from his new friend, I asked him who that was. They were talking to each other like they were old friends, and they even shook hands before parting ways. I assumed he must know this man. Mr. Everything told me he had no idea who the guy was. He said the man walked up to him and asked him why rotors were shaped differently on the back tires than on the front. Really? Who asks that? And who randomly asks that of a person who actually knows the answer?
Mr. Everything said the man said he had been wondering about rotors. He saw Mr. E’s NASCAR shirt and thought he might know. Really? Really?? Just because he was wearing a NASCAR shirt, he should know how cars are made? I’d better not wear my Martha Stewart T-shirt anymore. Someone might think I’m a domestic goddess!
What’s even funnier about that is that Mr. E DID know the answer! He has just reinforced this man’s delusion that the clothes make the man literally. This man is going to be asking all kinds of questions of strangers and expecting answers, all because he met Mr. Everything, the man who knows everything! Imagine this man’s disappointment when the next person he questions is just a mere mortal. His world may be crushed. He may have to hang out at the water machine and wait for Mr. Everything to visit so he can get all the answers to his urgent questions. Poor guy. He’ll probably lose his job and his family, but he will have Mr. Everything to talk to. What more does he need? -Al