One of the funniest aspects of being me is how often my husband and I get asked out on dates. And I don’t mean by swingers, or anything gross like that. I mean by people who collide with us out in the real world and want to be family friends because we can be humorously neurotic individuals. I don’t mean this to sound conceited – we are simply magnets for improbable friendships and it can be wildly entertaining.
This happened to us again last night. Now that they are open, we have been going to restaurants on the beach as often as we can – ostensibly to help keep beloved local businesses alive, but mostly because it feels amazing to be around normal people again. People who are not talking about a new seasonal illness as if it’s the Black Death. People who aren’t worked up about much of anything, in fact.
Going to the beach after dark, one thing is abundantly clear: Florida is going to party its way out of this economic depression. Every hotel and restaurant is packed. Every place has live music. And instead of playing tourist favorites like Jimmy Buffett or Zac Brown Band, I have heard two (rather incredible, I might add) renditions of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (Parts One and Two). We don’t need no education…. We don’t need no thought control…. The beach hippies are out en masse, performing before like-minded crowds, and they want you to know the political establishment can get royally fucked. A town that I used to think of as being annoyingly liberal now has giant Trump flags hanging from every balcony – and I am not exaggerating that at all. It turns out people do not like being micromanaged and having their businesses destroyed. I feel like I have watched my Amash thesis get thoroughly debunked in a week.
Anyway, as we were sitting down at our table, a man started shouting at us from across the restaurant. “Hey, you are following us!” he said. It turns out, it was the same fellow we had been chatting up outside a burger joint last weekend. His family had moved to our neck of the woods from Michigan. I spent half an hour talking to him about the car industry and whether Japan had triumphed over American brands over sidewalk PBRs.
Sometimes, I take it for granted how much studying finance and economics allows you to relate to total strangers. I have never stepped foot in Michigan in my life, though I hear it is beautiful. The last American vehicle I ever owned was in college. The only thing that has stopped me from buying an Italian sports car is my insatiable need to ferry mulch from Lowe’s to my garden. But I know a ridiculous amount of information about the manufacturing industry, including the Big 3 auto makers. (You just have to cut me off before I get to the point of talking about references to commodity futures trading in Aristotle.)
On their way out of the restaurant, the couple stopped by our table and said, “I hope you don’t think this is weird, but can we get your phone number? We think you guys are cool and we want to be friends.” Hey, I arrange playdates for our daughter constantly. Why not arrange them for ourselves? Something tells me these people are probably also into boats.
I’ve watched as this whole ordeal has turned our neighborhood into The Sandlot for kids. They no longer hide inside playing video games and getting fat, but have formed a club for exploring the jungles together, they ride bikes, they get in trouble. Our daughter is having the best summer of her life with friends she only met from families being maxed out by the quarantine order and rebelling by being aggressively outside.
It seems to be having the same effect on adults. I can see us down the road, “we met at a bar ten years ago, randomly, when the world had lost its mind.”