A note to those who may misunderstand my title, and think I work in radio (like my ex-husband and many of our friends)…unfortunately, radio is fun, but no longer very profitable (and some veterans may disagree on the “fun” part, too)! I might have ended up doing radio news (I took Broadcast Journalism in college), but I chose not to enter that field. The “talking to strangers” refers to face-to-face interaction with people I come into contact with in my daily life.
Maybe it’s because of my journalism training that I’ve always enjoyed chatting with people…or, it could be sheer nosiness! Either way, it is an interesting way to pass the time, and I’ve learned a lot from some of my random interactions. This practice horrifies my children, however…I can barely get them to acknowledge their school friends with more than a shy smile or a little wave! When I took Hope to the after-hours clinic the other night, I was talking to a young father whose infant daughter was ill. I tried to distract the baby from her fussiness by talking to her, and helped the man get her into the carseat. After they left, Hope said, “Why do you have to talk to strangers? You’re embarrassing me!” When we got home, she informed Anna that I was “doing it again.”
Yesterday, a good-looking guy in his mid-40′s came into the bookstore…tall and well-built, with prematurely grey hair (oops…I just drooled a little on my keyboard!). As per my habit, I asked if it was his first visit (because I surely would have remembered if he’d been in before!)…he replied that it was, and offered that he was in town from Los Angeles. We don’t get many people from California in Saint John, New Brunswick, except The Jolie, and the occasional cruise ship passenger, so my next question was “How did you end up here?”
Tall Guy answered, “I’m a musician…we’ve got a gig here tonight.”
“Oh, which band are you in?” I asked.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when he replied, “The Goo Goo Dolls. ” We’ve had celebrities in the store before: comedian Ron James, Vinyl Café host Stuart MacLean, and the Canadian rock band Alexisonfire, but to have somebody from an internationally-known rock group find our little store is pretty amazing (he found us on Google)!
I quickly picked myself up off the floor and responded that I had almost bought tickets for their show for Jim for Christmas, but he preferred to see the Classic Albums Live tribute to The Who that we went to last month. Casually, Tall Guy said, “I can probably get you in.”
“Seriously?” I asked eagerly. Those tickets were going for $49.50 each before service charges!
“Really!” he answered. “Give him a call and see if he wants to go.” So I did! Jim was excited too!
Tall Guy spent a fair amount of time looking at our books, while I chewed his ear off. I asked what he played…he responded modestly that he was “just the drummer.” He told me about their shows in Newfoundland, and mentioned that his wife back in L.A. wasn’t very happy about him being gone on Valentine’s Day. He would be back home in a couple of weeks though, and then off for a month.
My euphoria was disturbed when Tall Guy’s phone rang with a text message…he had to go back to the hotel and make an important phone call he’d forgotten about. I gave him my card, and he promised to leave some tickets in my name at the door. I got Tall Guy to sign our guest book, and took his money for the book he bought (World War I history)…he didn’t even make it into the room with the art, music, and literature…I’m hoping he might order more books from our website!
After he was gone, I Googled Mike, because I couldn’t read his last name (Malinin)…in the course of my
stalking research, I also found out that Mike was a marathon runner. How cool is that? A drummer for a rock band and a runner!
Showtime was 7:30 p.m. Despite our best efforts, Jim and I didn’t make it to the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre until 7:15. The line for General Admission snaked out into the neighbouring mall. Most of the people waiting were half our ages. Luckily, the queue moved quickly, and soon we saw a special table at the door where a woman had a box full of envelopes. I left Jim to hold our place and hurried over to her. “I’m Wendy M.,” I said. “Mike the drummer left me a couple of tickets.” The woman shuffled through a pile of white envelopes and pulled one out with my name on it. She opened it, and discovered two triangular Goo Goo Dolls sticker passes with “2/14″ and “A.S.” written on them in permanent marker. I was excited, because I surmised that “A.S.” stood for “After Show.” The woman told us to just go on in and take our seats…we did, after carefully applying the stickers to our chests (we had a little trouble freeing them from the backing paper…I think they were “boomerproof” stickers).
The opening band, Crash Parallel, was a group of young Canadian guys based in Toronto. They could sing; they could play; and they were suitably enthusiastic. I particularly enjoyed their cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (Genesis was one of the first bands I ever saw live, back in 1981). During the intermission, we chatted with two other couples from our generation who were seated near us (one fellow worked in Emergency at the hospital, and has put multiple casts/splints on my girls!). Yes, children…I was talking to strangers again!
Finally, the Goo Goo Dolls took the stage. Most of their material was new to me…in their heyday in the late-90′s, I had already stopped listening to mainstream radio. The youngsters at the show felt the need to stand in front of the stage, so we spent the rest of the time on our feet (which was tough on my almost 50-year-old body!). My favourite Goo Goo Dolls song is Iris:
After the show, we filed out into the lobby…we walked around and asked several people whether they knew what the “A.S.” meant on our passes. No one did (not even the burly security guy with the headset), and it didn’t appear that there was an “after show.”
We went home…I’ve decided that “A.S.” stands for “Amiable Stranger.” Thanks, Mike, for the tickets! Sometimes it pays to talk to strangers!