Tonight, we had dinner with one of Chris’s friends, who is also his colleague and someone who attended our wedding. On average in the last three years, although the two of them get along very well, I’ve only seen him three times, so on average once every year. Last year, it was at our wedding! So I was excited to see him again and be exposed to his more pronounced Australian accent (I guess everyone’s Australian accent is more pronounced than Chris’s at this point…), as well as to his many opinions and recent life developments.
Chris’s friend has a lot in common with Chris; both are Australian who have relocated to the U.S. for work; both are extremely ambitious and confident, have intense work travel schedules that take them both all over the world, and have a huge passion for technology; both are also extremely opinionated, political, and charismatic; they both love a heated (but intellectually stimulating) debate. It doesn’t happen very often, but very occasionally in life you meet those people who, when they engage with you, they make constant eye contact with you and draw you into their conversation seamlessly, and make it feel as though you’re the most important person in the room. This friend is one of those people. He’s like Barack Obama in that way based on what I’ve read about how engaging our former and missed president is.
We had dinner at a cozy restaurant in West Village, followed by a very long night cap at a nearby watering hole that served $16 cocktails flecked with gold, leaving real gold flakes on all our lips by the end of the night. Chris’s friend brought a female friend along, and the four of us talked about everything from cooking to travel to politics to more politics to a relationship breaking down to theater and even dogs. Topics were on everything from “how do we define ‘snobby’ when we are discussing food?” to “what does it actually mean to be ‘racist’?” to “am I really being an asshole by doing X action?” What always gets me excited when I am around people like this friend is that he never shies away from the controversial or the offensive; again, he’s like Chris in that way. Except when he and Chris are in the same room, they will battle it out, and it’s so stimulating for me to watch the debate and occasionally interject and see others, like our new friend at the table, participate, as well. I rarely get these meals where extremely smart and opinionated people put their personal feelings aside and debate for the sake of pushing intellectual curiosity and thoughtfulness and don’t feel like they’re going to make the other side cry or even cry themselves. These conversations are really important to have. It helps with understanding better those we care about, and it allows us an opportunity to explore others’ opinions, which in most of these cases, are really just extensions or stretches of what we already think (because frankly, none of us here are conservative or rooting for the end of women’s birth control or right to choose, or for the breakdown of Meals on Wheels, and none of us believe that “color” doesn’t exist). It did get to a point in the night where our new friend said she had to take a break from even listening to the debate because “sometimes some nights, you just want to go out and have fun and enjoy yourself, and not discuss politics or question whether we’re really all racist bitches!” It’s a fair point, but it’s sad when there’s zero nights when you and your friends can have that opportunity to debate and be provocative and push buttons. If you never expose your vulnerable side, you will never truly know another person. And in turn s/he will never know you.
It was a rich and fulfilling evening.