Thursday, March 05, 2009

Start a Conversation

Life is going to be hard now and then, no matter what we do. But it doesn’t have to be grindingly dull.

For years, Sandy and I have long resisted the herd instincts that cause people to wear advertisements for Adidas, Old Navy, and other products and shopping meccas. What are those people advertising? That they are consumers? Can you imagine stopping someone to exchange some interesting chit chat about your mutual adventures traveling down aisles at J.C. Penney?

Why not use your personal advertising space to make a statement about who you are, or perhaps better, bring a smile to those you meet? A surprising, and interesting, array of fellow fans turned up when I wore Green Bay Packer shirts and caps in Idaho and Utah, and that continues to happen in Michigan. I’ve found fellow U of Wisconsin grads in some strange places by sporting Badger sweatshirts.

The message seems a trifle mundane to me, but a T-shirt of mine that says “Fairways Forever, Housework Never” generates smiles and laughter wherever it’s been seen. “Never anger someone who knows how to handle knitting needles” gives viewers a chuckle when Sandy displays it, and it also led to conversations and some sales when she was actively pursuing her craft business. I have yet to make one that says, “Work is the Curse of the Drinking Class,” but creating that item is on my agenda.

We don’t have any great, or expensive, art adorning the walls of our home. However, most of what we have invites questions that lead to discussions of unusual events in our lives. Conversation pieces are handy things to have around when a new acquaintance visits.

It is a pleasure to note that my harping about the value of making oneself distinctive and adding a dash of humor now and then appears to have influenced our son. Visitors to his home are greeted by a truly unique display, and its history is a nice tribute to youthful creativity.

As an apartment dwelling worker-student in Minneapolis, Lee invested in some rather fancy earphones so he could enjoy music, much of it classical, without bothering the neighbors. Seeking a safe place to rest the phones when they were not in use, he and Sandy found the perfect thing on a shopping foray during one of her visits. They bought a splendid and affordable bust of Johann Sebastian Bach. Unfortunately, it was poorly attached to a small base. Lee commandeered a limestone rock from the Mississippi River shore near his apartment, securely attached Bach to it, and drilled a fake audio cable connection into the new, ultra-stable base.

When visitors to his various homes commented about the old music master perched on a rock, wearing an over-sized set of modern earphones, and apparently tuned into something, Lee had a standard opening to his response--“Bach Rocks.”

I think Lee also accepted my message about the value of distinctive apparel. The other day he showed up wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed:

“Outside of a dog, man’s best friend is a book. Inside a dog, it is very dark.”

No comments: