Life Topics

Yesterday Today and Tomorrow

She was very knowledgeable about her business.  Holding the ring, she pointed out the uniqueness of the setting as she rotated it in her fingers.  The stones were exquisite as their brilliance would light up with each motion.  “Can you see how the diamonds are held in this circular setting?” she said.  It was a gold band with three diamonds in a row.  I knew nothing about settings, but she assured me it was both fashionable and stable.  I really liked the ring but did not love the ring.  She continued by saying, “the diamonds are E H quality”, or some such letters that was supposed to impress.  It was lost on me.  He stood next to me leaning over the case, focused on the ring and listening intently.  It was going to be a major purchase if we decided to go with it.

He asked me to wait outside while he had a private conversation with the shopkeeper.  I quietly turned to him and said, “I need to talk to you.”  He insisted I wait outside. I repeated myself again, hoping to curtail their conversation.  I could see he was set to negotiate.  I didn’t want him to work to get the price down on something I wasn’t really sure about.  However, I went outside as he asked and waited until he emerged from the store.  He told me he had talked her down by several hundred dollars.

“Hey, I wanted to let you know that I don’t love the ring” I said.  He was a little bit surprised, as we walked down the street.  I said, “Maybe we can go to Boston to look for the right thing.”  He agreed, although a bit disappointed. Turning toward the beach we walked onto the soft sand and stared out at the harbor in silence.  The beautiful summer day reflected the sun off the water as the boats bobbed on their moorings.  His plan was to propose and present me with a ring that night.  It was our weekend away to celebrate 25 years together and to start a new chapter in our life.

The town had been all but shut down that day while they worked on the repairs.  A sewer breakage had caused all food establishments to close, and half the town was left without plumbing.  We decided to go anyway and try to enjoy ourselves.  The quaint hotel we stayed at had flushing toilets and was in the center of town near beaches and shops. Port-o-Potties lined the main street, and a scattering of people walked around.  Our evening plans were ruined as our favorite restaurant, The Mews, was closed.  That was the memorable location he planned to make it official.

As we walked back toward the main drag, I saw another Jewelry shop.  I said, “Let’s go in here and take a look.”
I had every intention of just looking.  The owner of the shop was animated and friendly.  He didn’t have the smug air of the last shop owner.  We began leaning over the cases to look at his diamond rings.  There were several off the list right away.  He held up “our most popular” rings looking for my interest.  Nah, no interest.  I did find one that was way beyond our means.  I kept going back to it, but eventually snapped out of it.  We were not looking to spend a ton of cash.

My eyes were a bit off focus because my false eyelashes were starting to flap off my eyelid.  I must have looked crazy.  Every so often I’d put my finger on the lashes to secure them on the dry glue without success.   My soon to be fiancé was staring intently at all the sparkly choices, pointing out possibilities.  And then, there it was.  A 3-diamond band that was sweet and simple.  It resembled the ring we saw at the other shop, but was in white gold, which made it pop.  The owner told us that the 3 diamonds represented, “yesterday, today and tomorrow.”  That resonated with us since we have been together for so long.

My boyfriend asked the owner if we could take a walk and talk about it.  “Of course!” he said.  So, we left the store and stood off to the side of the front window.  With tears coming down his face, he quickly said, “I know we’re doing this backwards, we’re about to buy a ring, and I haven’t officially asked you to marry me.  Will you marry me?”  I took his face into my hands, looked directly in his eyes, and slowly said “Yes. Yes, I will marry you” as my tears (and eyelashes) blurred my eyes.  We tightly embraced and started kissing in the middle of a busy sidewalk like we were the only ones in the world.

 

Life Topics

Small Talk

Parties can cause me slight anxiety as I circulate about and “work the room.”  Mingling is essential to having a good time, an art if you do it right. Having a few drinks helps me to be more confident and relaxed: interested and interesting.  But how do you spark a great conversation? You start out with the unavoidable, discerning small talk.  What do you do for a living is a typical opening question, personal but not too personal.  It’s this kind of generic interaction that can lead to the next banal talking point.  Unless they say something like, “I’m a brain surgeon.”  Then I got nothing and am forced to reach deep into my mind to come up with something smart or witty.  When I get that same question, I always tell people, “I fetch rocks and put out fires,” which is true albeit non-specific.  I hate saying what I “do” because it’s not very impressive and tough to explain.

I do have one advantage in the small talk realm though, I am a naturally curious person.  This trait doesn’t guarantee a meaningful conversation, but it can be more compelling.  Why ask something mundane when you can really connect.  However, never mix up small talk for genuine interest.  There is nothing small about being inquisitive because I often pose more of a soft invitation to explain or describe.  Sort of like a casual interview.  It’s a great way to become familiar with someone on a real level.  My inquiries usually start with “Tell me about …”

Maybe my amiable interrogation stems from my love of stories.  I enjoy hearing about other lives.  I guess deep down I’m a voyeur seeking a fix.  So, after I determine the conversation is going well, I’ll inevitably look for more information to absorb.  I may ask, “Tell me about your first job.”  This question usually causes people to happily reminisce as they recount what it was like to have their first grownup job.  One guy told me that he buried dead cats.  What?  Another man said he managed a pizza shop at 16 years old.  Impressive.  You can imagine all the follow-up questions to those answers.  No matter what the job was, the discussion usually led to a lot of laughter.

When I become comfortable with someone, I like to ask my favorite “Tell me about…” inquiry.  The question always produces such a wide and varied range of answers.  Sometimes there is no response because they have no knowledge of it, or they are taken back by the personal nature of it.  Either way, I ask it because it involves the most profound of all stories:  Love.  “Tell me your parent’s love story” I say.  Some people stare at me with a blank look and confess that they have no idea.  I feel bad for them, because if they don’t know how their parents met, do they really know the very beginning of their own family story?  However, most of the time, people will gladly elaborate on their unique history.

A man from New Jersey told me that his parents met in Central Park NYC.  His mother was on an out-of-control runaway horse and his father jumped on another horse to save her.  He was delighted telling all the details and I was rapt.  Another guy said his parents had met a few times at the office, became pen pals when he was in the service during WWII and got engaged through letters.  They never had a date before they were married. He enjoyed telling their story, as he smiled and shook his head, “married until the day he died.”

Small talk serves an important purpose in many situations, especially parties.  I understand that, but I’ve never been very good at it.  I prefer to dig a little deeper when the time is right.  Believe me, my unusual questions are never the first thing I ask.  I have the obligatory chit chat that eventually evolves to a place of authenticity where stories emerge.  Life is built on stories.  So go to the party, have a drink, eat some cheese and crackers, mingle and introduce yourself.  Some big conversations start with small talk.

 

Author’s Note:

**** PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT YOUR STORY.  LET’S SHARE.***

I’ll start:  My parents met on a playground when they were kids!

Life Topics

Dipstitch Podcast

Hello Dilettante Life followers, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything.  Time to get back in the saddle soon.  I miss my blog.

However, the reason I’ve been absent for so long is I have found a new passion I wanted to tell you about…

I have a new podcast!  It’s called Dipstitch,  a 15-30 minute episode of “sisterly conversation” brought to you each week.  What is sisterly conversation?  Well, my sister Susan and I talk about food, family, faith, dogs, knitting, jobs, holidays, parenthood and EVERYTHING in between.  I know you might be thinking, “this is a chic podcast” but it’s not. Most topics are very relatable and entertaining.  We have some laughs along the way and even have a guest every so often to join in the fun.

Won’t you have a listen?  Our audience is fantastic and makes the podcast worthwhile.  But, we’re looking to grow our fan base by inviting you to listen.  Dipstitch is available on a number of podcast platforms, but the easiest one to use is podchaser.com.

To become a loyal listener, go to podchaser.com and in the search box type Dipstitch.  Our podcast page will come up and have a green “Follow Podcast” button on the right side of the screen.  Click on it, and you’ll get an email when a new episode is uploaded.  It’s that simple.  And, if you scroll down, you’ll see Recent Episodes with a link next to it, to “View All”.   One stop shopping.

Thank you so much for being a loyal follower of Dilettante Life.  I hope you will enjoy Dipstitch as much, and become a follower there as well.

Warm Regards,

Jo