Talking to Strangers


A woman stopped by the church with her five-year-old daughter today. At some point, I made the mistake of smiling at the little girl and acknowledging her very cute existence on this planet. This created some instant bond between us, and I was then awarded the privilege of being her new buddy for the day. I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more if crayons or cartoons had been involved, but I don't have any good excuse to have either of those things on hand in my office.

Anyway, my new BFF followed me to my desk and launched into conversation without hesitation. "What are you doing?" she asked plainly.

"Umm.. I'm making a brochure," I said, kicking myself for not having a cooler job.

"Oh. Cool! I wanna work when I get to be big and not a kid. When are you gonna be not a kid anymore and go to big school?"

I fumbled for a good answer to that. "Well, I already went to college, so I kinda did go to big school." Wait, did she mean kindergarten? Probably. Maybe high school?

"But you're not a big kid," she told me. "When are you gonna grow up?"

Not sure whether to feel complimented or insulted by that, I answered, "Soon, I hope."

Her eyes lit up. "So are you going to get married and have kids?"

At this point, I desperately wanted to switch the topic to the Dora jacket she was wearing. Pulling out my Swiper reference would have been much less painful and awkward than trying to salvage the current conversation. She was way too eager to hear my answer, though, so I responded, "One day, I hope. I need a boyfriend first, though."

"Haha! That's funny. Boyfriend. So umm, when are you getting married? Sunday?" (Clearly, she's in cahoots with my coworkers, trying to set me up and marry me off as soon as possible.)

"Aww, no, sadly, I don't have a boy to marry yet. Maybe next year or the year after that, though." I smiled and threw as much hopefulness as I could into my voice.

She was more disappointed by this news than I've ever been, and even my own mother hasn't ever shown that much concern for my love life as this little girl did in that one moment. So, she did what five-year-olds do best. She went straight to the heart of the issue and asked, "Why can't you get a boy?"


I couldn't decide whether to hug her or punch her. I finally managed to distract her by mentioning Texas and trailing off into a bunch of excuses, which she took as her cue to tell me her own story. "I live at church, where I go to Sunday School, which really isn't Sunday School but it's at the church." I spent the next five minutes nodding like a pro at all the words tumbling out of her mouth in a tangled mess of childish glee, and then her mom finally came to take her away.

Tomorrow, I'll have crayons.