(1) The negative Nellie at the grocery story
I’ve moved to new places multiple times and it’s always a little lonely at first, but then after a month or so it gets awesome. My third day in Tucson I was feeling rather stressed about not getting the job I had wanted and not having any furniture in me bedroom or food in my cupboards. I went grocery shopping which for some reason was making me feel even more stress (probably because grocery shopping leads to cooking which I don't really care for). As I was paying for my groceries the cashier, an annoyed looking older woman, asked me, “Why are you so happy?” The question caught me off guard because I was really stressed at that precise moment and did not think that I had a smile on my face, but I responded, “I just moved to Tucson! And I’m happy to be here.” She gave me a look that said, “Are you crazy, hun?” She then proceeded to tell me how hot it is, how her hometown of San Diego is better and her dumb husband never should have made her move to Tucson, but how I would love the weather in the winter. The lady in line behind me chimed in and told me that the winters really are beautiful and that I would love it here. The cashier complained a little bit more and I just smiled and nodded at this surprisingly chatty cashier. As I was leaving I thanked the cashier and she said in a slightly chipper tone, “Welcome to Tucson.” Yes, welcome indeed.
(2) The wise old man and (3) his wife
In an effort to make friends I’ve been going to almost every activity that I’ve been invited to; even things that I would usually say no to. One such activity was singing at a retirement home (I’ve actually said no to such outings on multiple occasions). After singing seven songs or so the lady in charge said, “Okay, go mingle!” and we were supposed to mingle with the old folks. I ended up talking to this nice old man and his wife who were originally from North Carolina. I asked him how long they’d been married and he said 69 years. I told him that I’d have to live to be nearly one hundred to be married for 69 years. He just laughed and told me that I was still very young. Then I asked, “So what’s your secret? How have you been married for so long?” After thinking for a moment he responded in a matter of fact voice, “Give in,” and then he laughed. I think that’s good advice. Most things aren’t worth fighting about.
(4) The Monopoly man
I was at a party for all the new students in my program on Saturday and one of my colleagues brought her “friend” from Atlantic City who I’m pretty sure is actually a little more than that. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a real estate agent. Anyone who is well informed and who knows me really well will understand why his occupation was thrilling to me. You see, I was obsessed with the game Monopoly as a teenager and the properties in the game are named after real places in Atlantic City. I tried not to sound too excited as I realized that I was talking to a real life Rich Uncle Pennybags. He told me that he had even sold some properties on the streets mentioned in Monopoly. I tried not to grin with delight at this information because I had just met this man and did not want to seem like a crazy monopoly fanatic so I contorted my face into an expression that said, “That’s cool, I guess.” I wanted to ask if the houses he sold were little, green, and made of plastic, but that might have been a little too charming. Unlike the cartoon Rich Uncle Pennybags the real one did not have a top hat or a mustache. Instead, his tattoos, hip clothing, and overly tanned skin made him look more like a 50 year old trying appear 25.
(5) That girl from the blog
When my cousin’s wife Angie found out I was moving to Arizona she told me that I should take out her friend who lives in Phoenix. Angie sent me a link to her friend’s blog so that I could stalk her and see what she was like. I clicked on the link and read some of a post, but didn’t read much because Phoenix and Tucson are two hours apart and that seemed like too long of a drive for a date.
Last night I just happened to be in Phoenix eating dinner at Café Rio with my friend Megan from BYU. As we were eating, Megan’s friend Erin unexpectedly showed up. They briefly chatted about something and then Megan said, “This is my friend Ben,” and Erin and I shook hands. Then Erin said, “I think we’ve blogged stalked each other.” At this moment I was confused, really confused because I had no idea who this woman was and did not know why she knew me. Sensing my bewilderment she said, “I’m Angie’s friend,” and then instead of feeling confused I felt embarrassed for never writing to this girl. As we chatted another guy walked up to our table and said, “Excuse me, did you go to BYU? You look so familiar.” This was too much, I wasn’t supposed to know anyone in this state and suddenly two random people recognize me at Café Rio! It turns out that that guy (whose name escapes me) was sitting at the same table as Erin. They had spotted me minutes before and had decided that it would be funny for him to say that he knew me too, even though he didn’t. But as we chatted we realized that we really did know each other from a Spanish class we’d taken together.
I was going to tell another story about a Turkish man I met who told me that ben in Turkish means mole by pointing out a mole on a shy girl’s face, but this post is already long. Apparently he nearly laughed when I said, "Hi, I'm Ben." So come to Arizona, there are lots of interesting people to meet here.