Prompt #2: Contact
On the night bus home, I receive a tap on my shoulder from the person next to me. Pulling out my headphones, I turn my head towards him. He says, “you know you’re never going to meet anyone with those things in, right?” I laugh and nod dismissively.
I could tell him about the numerous times I’ve met people online, all while having my headphones in. Of course, I’ve met people IRL too — work, school, dog-park, coffee shop. But whether I’m meeting people in real life or online, I have a list of about five anecdotes that I cycle through depending on the season (did you know that recycling bins are melting in Arizona because of the heat?). The man who told me I wasn’t going to meet anyone says he’s always wanted to say that to someone with their headphones in. He tells me to go back to listening to my music. The way we introduce ourselves as the person we want to be is like a game, and part of that game is seeing how long we can keep it up for.
First points of contact can be awkward, exhilarating, or disingenuous. They can be in-person, online, or nonverbal. Think about the facades we put on for new faces. How is your “first impression” face different from the one you reveal later? How have your first interactions changed since instant messaging? Do you even like meeting new people anymore?
#14summerprompts is a summer writing initiative by Derrick Gravener, a BFA student in the Creative Writing Program at UBC. This summer he can be found dogsitting in suburbia and trying to fall in love with salad. Follow the love story on instagram: @derrickgravener.