The Weekly Rant with Gary Patella

Thoughts and ideas on various grievances that are relevant to everyday life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Friendly Stranger

Socialization is the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained. Socializing is a part of life, and it comes in many forms. It starts with family, then progresses throughout school. From there it can branch out to socializing with peers, coworkers, or groups. In short, the majority of people learn how to socialize by the time they reach adulthood.

For some, the need to socialize is very great. Any activity such as going to the movies, going to dinner, or simply going into a bar, require the presence of another for these people. Those that are a bit more independent can sometimes go to these places alone. In any case, going out involves interacting with others on some level.

When it comes to places such as bars, cafes, and clubs, people will often interact with strangers. In many cases this is perfectly normal. Typical chit chat at a bar with the stranger next to you is not uncommon. But in some cases it leads to problems.

At times, I find myself in a conversation with a stranger at the bar. Initially, everything seems normal. But after a while, something seems a bit off. Suddenly the reality of the situation becomes apparent-- this individual is latching on. What started out normal turned out to be a clingy individual in need of new friends. I'm always weirded out by this.

Although most people have learned how to socialize, this guy apparently has not. Sure, the conversation started out normally enough. But then it becomes apparent that he has no friends and is looking for you to fill that gap. It gets even weirder when he asks to exchange numbers. What the hell is up with that? Now I have several choices, but none of them make me comfortable.

First off, I can exchange numbers with him (but this is something I really want to avoid). I can also give him my old, non-working cell phone number. Or I can be honest and say that I'd rather not. Most often, I choose the latter. It may make me look mean, but I really don't care. Just because we spoke for a while at the bar in order to pass the time, it doesn't mean that I want you calling me to hang out.

In summary, I'm not looking for a new friend. If you are, then you're going to have to look somewhere else. If you want to talk at the bar, I'm okay with it. If you think that means I'm your new best friend, you have issues that you need to resolve.


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