Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Instant Camaraderie's Gonna Get You

There’s an interesting dialogue on race going on in the comments section of the previous post. Since things are going quite nicely without my input there, I thought I’d offer something new here.

I’ve recently been contemplating a concept that I like to call instant camaraderie, or IC.

IC occurs naturally in most humans, I would imagine. It manifests itself when we discover something about another person that instantly raises their worth in our eyes. This discovery might be made when you meet someone for the first time, which can lead to the phenomena known as becoming “fast friends.” Or it might be after you’ve seemingly gotten to know someone well, in which case the discovery is even more profound and satisfying.

And what is the substance of such a discovery? Allow me to explain by way of example.

On New Year’s Eve last, my wife and I decided to bridge the gap between a quiet evening at home and a raucous night on the town. We invited over two couples and their children for a light social gathering replete with tasty appetizers and tastier ales, except not for the kids who were furnished with hot dogs and juice boxes.

One of the couples, let’s call them the B.s, we came to know because their children go to school and play soccer with some of our own. We aren’t by any means close friends, but have passed the stage of being mere acquaintances. They’re nice people and good company, however, and this is important, they didn’t seem to be of the same crowd that we would normally hang out with. Little did we know.

The first instance of IC occurred that evening when my wife learned that the B.s are euchre enthusiasts, an affinity that instantly placed them in the upper echelon of all people she has ever met, perhaps even above her own children who haven’t yet learned the hearts-like card game. Imagine the joy that a young Hebrew gentleman living in New Berlin would feel upon meeting a nice Jewish girl at the weekly Lenten fish fry, and you’ll get some idea of the rapture that embraces my wife’s soul when meeting a fellow euchre aficionado. Her excitement was palpable as she immediately began preparing a deck of cards for play.

While engaged in a round of euchre, a second instance of IC transpired. My iPod shuffled through a party mix, landing on “Little Mascara” by the Replacements. After picking up trump, Mrs. B. said the words that will forever guarantee her a place in my heart, “Oh, are you a Westerberg (Paul: singer, songwriter, guitarist) fan?”

I would have never in a million years pegged her for a Replacements fan, yet there she sat, all along a comrade in the indie rock war against stadium acts and radio-friendly popsters.

From there we began to share stories of our affinity for one of the greatest and least appreciated rock bands of all time. We compared discographies, right down to solo efforts and soundtrack contributions. We each shared our one experience seeing the Mighty Mats live. It was if I had found a new best friend. This was clearly a case of instant camaraderie.

In my experiences, IC is most commonly induced when I find out that someone shares the love that I have for a relatively obscure, at least in these parts, band, movie or author. Unless you’re extremely wanton and morally suspect, IC will occur only rarely, on those occasions when someone connects with something that you treasure but that the general populace just doesn’t get.

So perhaps you would like to share what the one thing is that you can discover about a person, even if initially he seems a scoundrel or she a ne’er-do-well, that will immediately and unquestionably make them aces in your book.


nancy said...

As soon as I find out someone is black, I automatically love them and think everything they do is great. I can usually tell in the first few hours.

Seriously though, put me in a room with a new mom and we're fast friends. I LOVE birth stories and pregnancy stories (if she's had a c-section, we're good for life). I find it so interesting that what some women hated about being pregnant, others loved. Every experience is so different and I just soak it all up.

Anonymous said...

You got to play euchre?


Russ said...

If I notice somebody has James Blunt on their iPod, I feel as if I've met a kindred spirit.

Kidding. You know I'm kidding, right?

There are lots of these little triggers for me. Gadget geeks, fans of "The Office" (US AND UK), triviots, etc.

Stanley Eisen said...

I remember meeting a small geeky kid in high school that I thought I could bully into allowing me to cheat off him in Spanish class. Little did I know he didn't care if I cheated off him. What a guy!

I.C. indeed.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I love the Replacements (and Wilco)! Too bad we didn't talk music more back at QC. As for IC moments, they're bound to happen for me when I meet other single women around my age, since we're a dying breed. Mutual love of running (or, tangentially, a runner who's got the same injury I happen to have at a given moment) or my favorite bands will do it, too. And anyone who's a teacher, especially at the high school level, will have my rapt attention.

Anonymous said...

Hey, man, you don't talk to Barack Obama. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll... uh... well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"... I mean I'm no, I can't... I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's... he's a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas...

Occula said...

Like your experience, if I find out they're into music in the general realm of what hubby and I like. Do they like Wilco, have they heard of the Drive By Truckers, do they know the uncle tupelo/son volt backstory, do they still go to concerts?

On the other hand, when someone doesn't get my sense of humor and I don't get theirs (hi, mom!). Or when our responses just seem unsynched, we're not sure if the other one is joking or not, or we find each other hard to read. (hi, mom!) In that case, I generally also find out that they're conservatives, and as I'm a liberal, we do have difficulty really hitting it off. (hi, mom!)