Vulcan’s Peak

Random Encounters

December 14, 2006 10:26 pm

Having carried my “As bees, geometry” bag (second half of this post) around for three months, I had started to think that no one would ever question my motto of choice. I’ve gotten comments about the green ribbon that’s tied around the strap, but no on had pressed me about the Latin. (Wait, not true. My roommate asked once, but the conversation got sidetracked and she never got an answer. Oops.) So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to “toss off an obtuse explanation”…though, may I add, at the time, Jean was much better at coming up with said explanations off the top of her head.

All that is a long introduction to say that the question has finally been asked — and answered — twice in a week and a half.

The first time was in the elevator last week. Having a college in downtown Boston means that all our buildings are at least ten stories high, so elevators are a major commodity and there is a huge rush on them right before classes start. I was trying to get up to the lucky 13th floor for work as 2:00 classes were starting, but by the time we got up to the 9th floor or so, it had emptied out to me and a man who is probably a professor. “I can’t help noticing your bag,” he said. “Can I ask what it means?”

Well, the sad truth is that, as usual, I’m not nearly as quick and witty as I might like. I think I stammered something about how it comes from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and how random it is and (somehow remembering that the question was what it meant), that I thought it had something to do intuitively know how to do something. Ding! Thirteenth floor.

This afternoon, I was on the escalator coming up from the subway when a businessman coming up from behind me asked what “as bees, geometry” meant.
“It has to do with intuitively knowing how to do something,” I said.
He caught right on. “So you know how to make the little hexagonal honeycombs intuitively?”
“Right,” I said, adding, “It’s slightly metaphorical.”
“I like it,” he said as we parted ways.
So yay. Approval from Random Escalator Guy.

Which at least was better than the “what’s up with my sweaters” phenomena that’s starting to worry me.

Incident number one was around Thanksgiving and I was wearing a purple and black sweater that I’ve had for ever and ever — it was a hand-me-down from my cousins and I know for sure that I was wearing it in middle school. I adore this sweater.

So it was late November and reasonably warm, because I wasn’t wearing a jacket, just the sweater. And I was literally just walking down the street when I pass a nice, normal, nondescript looking man. Our eyes meet for a split second and the words out of his mouth are not “Hi,” but “Nice sweater.”

Perhaps for that one my reaction should not be “What’s wrong with it? Eek!” but it is…

Incident number two was last night, near school, and involved this sweater. I was waiting for the crosswalk light when I realized that a random guy to my left was looking at me. When I noticed him, he said, “You’re wearing a Cosby sweater.”

What the hell? Do you mean that my sweater is twenty years out of date and would look better on a man my father’s age? Granted I’ve had this one a while too — junior year of high school, maybe, and it was new! But that’s not even the 90’s, much less the 80’s. The hell?

Since I like Bill Cosby and I love this sweater, I just said “I’m glad you like it,” and crossed the street.

Coming shortly: Last Sunday’s Harry Potter Experience

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