Monday, June 23, 2008

A polite conversation?

When visiting Boulder, Colorado, while my husband was attending a conference, I walked down Pearl Street to a little convenience store called Lolita’s to buy sunscreen and some bottled spring water. There were two tables outside the store, and there were two men sitting at one of them, so I sat at the other to apply my sunscreen and drink my water.

The two men looked to be maybe in their mid-30s or early 40s. Soon two younger men, maybe in their early 20s, came along; they greeted the seated men as though they had met before but did not really know each other well. There was some talk about “last night” as though they had all perhaps been out at the same local bar. Then one of the 20-somethings said to one of the seated men, “By the way, you know, it’s really bad etiquette to use your speaker phone in the bar.”

The seated man said, in a quiet, calm voice, “Oh, really? Well, you know, I don’t really give a f**k what you think.”

The other one continued in an equally calm, polite-sounding tone, “I just thought I should let you know, man, that it’s not good etiquette.”

“Well, I’m sorry if I offended you man, but I really don’t give a f**k.”

This continued for a few minutes, with neither man raising his voice or betraying any anger in his tone, and with the seated man repeatedly using the f-word. Finally, the younger man departed, saying “God bless you, man,” as he walked away.

The seated man talked to his friend for some time after this, saying that he thought the younger man must be very priviledged and accustomed to telling other people what to do and how to behave -- with frequent use of the f-word -- and then said that he was known to be a nice person, that he knew several influential and wealthy people in town, that he was 42-f-ing years old and therefore deserving of respect. He also said that he grew up in the Bronx, had attended UCLA, and that he bet the younger man had never been in a knife fight or pulled a gun on anyone. He said that he knew people who would respond violently to the younger man’s correction, and that such a response would serve as a valuable lesson to the young man -- all the while repeating that he did’t give a f**k what the guy thought. But at no point did he raise his voice or betray through his tone the extent that he was, by his words, obviously offended.

Although I found the ironic diatribe somewhat entertaining, I decided to leave while he was still talking about it because I figured he might eventually say to me, “What the f**k are you looking at?” and I didn’t think I wanted to engage in that conversation.

But he never raised his voice.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Visiting Boulder, Colorado

My husband was going to Boulder, Colorado, for a LOHAS conference, and I said, how about if I tag along? So here we are in Boulder. It's a lovely town nestled just next to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, population about 100,000 -- just enough to make it a vibrant city, it seems. There's a pedestrian way through the middle of downtown, called the Pearl Street Mall. It goes for several blocks and you can't so much as ride a bicycle down it -- it's all for walking.

We went out Thursday evening to look for a place to eat dinner and discovered that there's a lively night life on the mall. We noticed a crowd gathered on the corner of Pearl St. and 13th, where a street performer was regaling them with some lively antics. He had recruited a few assistants -- two men who stood facing each other with their arms folded across their chests, and a woman to whom he handed various instruments, including a hatchet and, a little later, a lit torch. He then climbed up and stood on the men's crossed arms and it appeared that he was going to have the woman toss the items at him to juggle, which was a little hard to fathom! But then he instructed her to step a little closer, then closer still, then he had her hand him the hatchet, torch, etc. He said, "You didn't think I was going to have her throw those things, did you?" She looked relieved. But it was probably the guys he was standing on at that time who were the most relieved. Anyway, he proceeded to juggle the hatchet and lit torch and other object (I didn't notice what it was) quite artfully. We moved on after that.

Eventually, we went to a wine bar called The Kitchen, which was recommended to us by a fellow operating a small winery where we had stopped for a glass earlier in the afternoon. It was crowded and lively, definitely a hot spot in town, and Craig noticed that it was full of young people -- much younger than us, certainly. It was too loud for conversation, so we we mostly took to people watching, and Craig commented that there were mating rituals going on all around us. True enough. We enjoyed our stroll back to the hotel Bolderado in the cool of the night, played cards, and went to sleep, old fogeys that we are.

There are more photos on my Flickr page.