Do you sometimes make things too difficult?
I apparently do. The other night, my wife and I were at a dinner celebrating a friend receiving her doctorate.
The friend was my wife’s, not that that has any great bearing on the story.
The restaurant was one of those higher-end Tex-Mex places, if you can fathom such a place. For all I know, this may only be a Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California type thing.
Anyhow, it didn’t seem that those of us gathered around the table were very well acquainted, because after some time, the five of us (the sixth person was stuck in traffic) launched into the whole “What are your favorite movies?” icebreaker.
I’m not a terribly adept conversationalist with people who I don’t know, so I did a lot of nodding and thoughtful looking on while people talked about movies and actors. The alternative would have been for me to hide under a table in the corner, because really, not great at talking with people I don’t know.
Chips and salsa were had. Margaritas and champagne were downed. The sixth person was still stuck in traffic. The table consensus was that we wait to order until the sixth showed. Never mind that it was Friday, around 6 P.M., right off I-10 in Houston, and a storm that produced golf-ball sized hail was moving through. By God we were going to wait for the sixth person!
Naturally the conversation had to evolve beyond favorite movies. Of course the restaurant was so loud we could barely hear the person next to us, much less someone from across the table, but that’s beside the point. So the next question was “If you were stranded on an island, what five movies you would want with you?”
I attentively listened as people around the table offered their picks, even though I could only hear every fifth word.
“The Wizard of OZ.”
The rotation inevitably turned to me.
I looked at the four people who were anxiously waiting for my life changing list and then said…
“What kind of mental state am I in on this island?”
Four faces looked back at me. One person began to respond, but then I elaborated.
“Am I happy to be on this island? Or am I distressed, as in I feel trapped because being on this island was definitely not on my agenda? Or am I so mentally disturbed that I’m talking to volleyballs?”
“Because this will impact the movies I choose.” I reasoned.
“I mean, I think you’re probably doing okay.” one person replied with semi-confidence.
I knew I had gone too far, and so began just listing some movies that I liked.
With each movie I mentioned, the conversation began to flow again as people chimed in on what they thought of the movies I chose.
I didn’t have the heart to bring up that no one had mentioned on what kind of island we were hypothetically stuck. I naturally assumed it was tropical. But what if was an island above the Arctic Circle where no vegetation grew aside from various tundra grasses? Or perhaps it was an island inhabited by tribes of warring cannibals, and the only thing I could do to keep myself from being eaten was to play one tribe off the other by convincing them I were a god?