Thursday, September 18, 2008

Small Talk

I really like riding the bus to work because it is my time to read. Sometimes though there are forces at work conspiring to steal these precious moments from me. For some reason, a number of bus travelers looooove to hear themselves talk, and even after a year of bus riding I haven't yet mastered the fine art of evading this with advanced techniques such as using ear buds or avoiding eye contact. Yesterday, I found myself daydreaming about other approaches, even extreme ones like feigning deafness, while my morning commute was usurped by a nice, but chatty man who talked to me ("to" is deliberate here, as to be distinguished from "with"). I got on the bus with another 4x4x4 cube for Colby (the first sadly has been disassembled and irreversibly mixed with food, but that is another story), and with this ice breaker the "conversation" began...

Nice, Chatty Man: "Oh, a Rubik's cube! I used to be able to solve those."

Me: "Cool, this one is for my nephew Colby."

Nice, Chatty Man: Proceeds to talk uninterrupted for 25 minutes with absolutely no peep from me as I longingly make glances at my book - I'm in no way exaggerating. Rubik led to speed solving, to games in general, to ping pong, to his forte: billiards. There's straight pool, snooker, a rotation game, 9-ball, some variant using 2 cue balls (one having a red dot), big and little tables and pockets, english and masse shots. He had what he called a "senior moment" at one point trying to remember the rules of one of the multitude of games he was describing to me, and pointed out this happens to everybody. Gambling came up, and the high-rollers he's played with. Snooker is actually named after a fish, which has really sharp teeth and hence requires one to use steel lead lines when fishing. There was in fact extended explanation of fishing, though I can't recall the details (it happens to everybody), with occasional reversals in the exposition back to pool again. Jackie Gleason made a cameo in this story and he described their meeting and how Jackie offered him Dom Perignon while they played (aside: nice, chatty man has actually had many tens of gallons of this fine sparkling wine over the course of his lifetime). A random glance out the window and a '65 something or other caught his attention, so we were off to the world of cars, 352s, hemys and chevys, oh my..........

Me: "Well, this is my stop, seeya."

Nice, Chatty Man: "Very nice talking with you. Bye."

Truly he had a dizzying intellect. I feel guilty for feeling a bit miserable during this experience and in retrospect, maybe I should have just tried to help get this guy setup to do some blogging.  After all, I didn't know snooker was both a game and a fish, nor what a masse shot was called.  But I can't even begin to decide how to tag this one.