Well hello, yes, we do know each other, but from where? That’s right, your house is next to mine. My wife and I moved in 12 years ago, long before you did. Excellent observation, yes, that means we’ve been neighbors for five years. Nice to meet you too, my name is … Wait a minute.
We’ve only been neighbors for five years and you already want to know my name? That’s a little fast, don’t you think? Next you’ll be asking me where I work. Whoa, hey, what are you doing? Please kindly put my hand down. We’ve only seen each other getting into our cars a few hundred times, and you already want to shake hands?
There is no need to be hasty. We must do things correctly if you want to develop a functional acquaintanceship. We have time. Let’s start over.
How do you do? Fine, thank you. Yes, it is raining, and they predict it will last until next week.
Stop! What are you doing? You’ve held eye contact for six seconds, and it’s unbearable. Who do you think I am, your mistress? Stop looking at me like that. Fine, I’ll teach you. Pay close attention.
Let’s pretend that we are again passing each other in the supermarket. We will lift our gazes for a quarter of a second and give the slightest nod of recognition while whispering ‘moien’ or ‘bonjour’ at our feet, and then we’ll be on our way, unperturbed. Shall we practice?
Right, so you go over there and here I am, and we’re moving along, both respecting the other’s personal boundary of two meters in any direction. Good, good. Let’s go for the approach. No, that’s too early. Keep your eyes down until the last second, perfect. Okay, now we acknowledge the presence of one another, so we lift the eyes, yes, whisper your greeting, a bit more softly so that I can’t actually hear you, and keep moving. Well done. I think that’s enough for today.
Let’s hope that our next accidental encounter goes a little more smoothly. With practice, you’ll soon be barely acknowledging me like a real local, and in a few years, you’ll be the one teaching newcomers. You’re very welcome. No, there’s no need to repay the favor. I’m doing this for myself, too. Honestly, it’s fine. Goodbye.
Hey, hey! Why are you patting my back?
Paul Arens is rumored to be a civil servant.