It's not that I don't like them, but the culture at my school is we just don't meet the other folks. It's even a small town, but English hangs with English, and then, well, I don't know about the others.
Anyway, maybe I'm just a misanthrope.
But yesterday I was sitting down to a hot apple crumb cake thing smothered in ice cream at the cafeteria when someone pulled a chair out across from me and sat down.
"Hi, I'm Nick." He put his hand out and I had to let go of the spoon.
I chewed what was left in my mouth, and he started to tell me things.
"So, you know I'm new, right? It's really loud in here, isn't it? You're in English, right? I was an English major. For a minute. The grammar kicked my butt. You know that I came here from California, right? It's really flat here. Is it always this humid? I don't think I have the right clothes. My shirt is sticking to me now and I've been inside all day. Is the food good here? That apple pie or something? Man, this is really the Midwest. Are you married? Sheila said you're married. You know Sheila, right? She's my chair. She's really nice. She told me that this was sort of a cultural hub in Ohio. Did they tell you that when you came here? I mean, I'm not stuck up or anything, but I've seen more barn dances than operas around here. I mean I rode my bike past an Amish family the other day. You live in town? Or are you out in the country? Sheila tells me some people like to live in the country because of how busy town is. She's messing with me, right? Because it's like a ghost town here after 6 pm. How do the kids stand it? Have you ever seen Main Street, like at 9 pm? I went out to try and find some fun the other night and everything was closed. I guess it's an adjustment, right? Sheila said you came from Chicago? Chicago, right? That's cold, right? I mean it gets cold here, too, or at least I Googled it. But really, it's pretty freaking quiet here, even with all the students back. There are literally people at the Walmart wearing overalls. And it's 100% free of irony. I emailed some of my friends in Cali about it. Nobody can believe it. So, you're almost a native now, right? Is there anything fun to do?"
I had a lot of apple crumb cake left, but I thought I owed Nick something. I thought I could offer a helping hand, a sort of insider's view, a fellow traveler who also found himself here in Nowhere, Ohio suddenly one day. I felt bad for him. I wanted to reach out to him. I wanted to connect.
"You sure got a purty mouth," I said.