You know those people you run into while you're waiting for the bus, the kind who are total strangers but like to engage you in conversation anyway? Somehow, I seem to attract them.
Most of the time, I don't mind the chitchat -- I mean, it's only polite to respond when someone says, "How are you today?" and generally, out here where the heat is as extreme as the cold, there's always something to say about the weather. After a few exchanges about rain/snow/ ice/all of the above, the conversation peters out or the bus arrives and you can part ways.
So yesterday, at my bus stop, a man started talking to me. "You going to school?" he asked. Seemed like a fairly innocuous opener. So I said yes, I was going in to campus to hold office hours. "You're a teacher," he said. Not wanting to mislead him, I explained that I was a student too. A few moments of silence, and I assumed we were done.
"I see some lucky man's already made you a promise," he said suddenly.
"What? Oh." I realized he was looking at my left hand. "Yes."
Inevitably, after a few more questions, the conversation reached the admission that D and I have a commuter marriage. To which, without any hesitation, the man said, "I guess in a relationship like that, you must have to be abstinent, huh?"
"Um" -- and here I think my brain sort of lurched to a sudden halt because it couldn't believe what it had heard -- "we do see each other as often as we can."
Now, I'm sure the guy didn't mean any harm, but how do you answer (or get out of answering) something like that? Clearly, he understood the institution of marriage -- at its simplest, a promise to be faithful -- so what further confirmation needed to be made about that? And yet, if I had offered no response, what would that have implied?
I think it's time to start carrying a book to the bus stop. Either to look really engrossed in it so as not to be disturbed or to thunk people on the head with it when they ask inappropriate questions.
On Being Mortal At 40
13 hours ago