Friday Fluff: I see you’ve got braces. I have braces too.

I’m meeting a woman for lunch today because we both have bags from the same company. I saw her bag, said “nice bag,” and it turned out we worked in the same building and had some other stuff in common. This in itself is amusing, but it’s not even the first time I’ve made friends with someone because we had the same bag! “Nice bag” was the first conversation I had with Cacie, too. (And don’t even get me started on all the friends I’ve brought into the fold. If you also want to make friends, this is the company and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Please don’t buy all the Sprout bags before I convince myself that yes, I do need to have another one even though my one is holding up beautifully.) I’ve also struck up conversations or cemented friendships over having the same combat boots. When I see that someone else with Corcoran field boots on, I feel a sense of kinship — and when I feel a sense of kinship with someone I try to get them to buy Corcs.

What do you own or wear that, expectedly or unexpectedly, turned out to make you a member of a community? What item of clothing or accessory always gets comments? And what’s the weirdest way you’ve made a friend?

91 thoughts on “Friday Fluff: I see you’ve got braces. I have braces too.

  1. Okay, I was looking to see if YouTube had a clip for the title of this post but I found something EVEN BETTER. Ich bin Cornolio! (With apologies to all German-speaking Shapelings. Hearing B&B speak in other languages is kinda mind-blowing to me.)

  2. OMG Thank you for the bag link! I need a new purse so bad!!!!!!!

    I do have a Seatbelt Bag that I used to have lots of chats about, “I like your purse, is that made of real seatbelts?” or the snarky “I like your purse” to someone else who already has one and we both laugh about how everone likes our purse. But after over two years of daily use it retired last fall. (Still in good condition.)

    The temptation to just buy another one is large. I will look at these new bags, and perhaps love one.

  3. I’ve got a palaeontology t-shirt from university which is black with a white trilobite on. It’s now ten years old and fading, but when I wear it there’s a high chance that someone interesting will strike up a conversation. In fact, if I ever found myself single again and wanted to pull another nice nerd boy, I could do no better than to put it on and hang around science museums and observatories.

    One time, DAVID ATTENBOROUGH not only commented on it but knew what genus of trilobite it was because he is A GOD.

  4. Not really an accessory, but several times I’ve had people strike up conversations over my hair color (bright red or purple or pink) and made friends while comparing what brands of coloring agents give the best results.

    MissPrism – WOW, that’s awesome. He is a god.

  5. OMG, MissPrism, no way!! I didn’t know he knew his trilobite genuses (geni?) but I am NOT surprised!

    I want all those bags. :( I cannot let myself do it after buying shoes yesterday, though, good god.

  6. My roommate has one of those bags!

    In grad school, everyone’s favorite shirt of mine was the one that reads “I hardly study.” I liked to wear it on Sundays when I would spend hours in the grad offices working on various papers. The situational irony was great.

  7. Not quite as, um, successful as your story, but one of my friends started chatting with another girl in the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris this January because they both had the same sorority bag. Turns out the other girl was just starting a semester abroad, and they were taking the same train out of the airport. My friend, having previously spent a lot of time in France, offered to help her find the station and make sure she caught it, etc. She also assured her that she wouldn’t need to go to the platform more than ten minutes before the train arrived, because that would be plenty of time.

    Well, you can imagine what happened next.

    Ten minutes before the train left, they got to the platform, but it was the *wrong* platform. And by the time they got to the right one, the train had left. So this poor American girl, who had been in France for all of two hours by this point, missed her train and ended up having to take a bus for twelve hours to catch a connecting train that would get her to the south of France in time to start her program. All because of a happy bag connection. I think my friend still feels guilty about that one…

  8. OMG! Bags with loooong adjustable straps. Yay!!! I still haven’t forgiven Timbuk2 for shortening their straps. grrrr.

    I’ve made friends more than once wearing or carrying Emily the Strange gear. Something about Docs with red and black kitteh laces seems to start conversations.

  9. DAMN YOU WOMAN!!!

    These are tough economic times and my hubby lost his job, and we’ll get through it and all but OMG I WANT ONE OF THOSE BAGS! SO CUTE!!! And I need a bag for summer, right? Right???

    And maybe i’ll make…business connections with that bag! friends! who might hire my husband! or offer me a better job!

    it could happen…

  10. Seconding the seatbelt bag phenomenon. I ALWAYS got comments with that thing. I still use it occasionallly, because it really is that indestructible and doesn’t look a day older than when I got it ~5 or so years ago.

  11. My bumper stickers always used to do the trick, before I totaled my car *whimpers at the loss of Gramps*. I would get lots of ”
    STRANGER: who would jesus bomb?! HAHA that’s awesome
    ME: ha, yep.
    And conversations like
    STRANGER: oh, are you British?
    ME: Err, no
    STRANGER: What’s with the British flag?
    ME: Oh, I studied there for a few months in undergrad. Plus, I like it, it makes me feel like I can drive like James Bond

    Now that I drive my sis’s car around I get lot’s of conversations like this:
    STRANGER: Oh, are you a Hiram College alum?
    ME: No
    STRANGER: Oh but…
    ME: It’s my sister’s car. But my mom worked there for about 15 years
    STRANGER: Oh really?
    ME: Yeah, she was the director of the health center
    STRANGER: OMG!!! YOU MEAN SHERRY?
    ME: Yeah!
    STRANGER: HOLY CRAP!! Most people around here don’t even know the college exists!
    ME: ha, I know. Cause it’s in the buttcrack of nowhere

    Ha, good times. I love bumper stickers. I can’t wait till I get another car to decorate :)

  12. Right out of college in 1999 I bought a book (not going to give the title b/c of how the rest of the story unfolds). I bought it on a whim, because skimming through it it looked mildly interesting and I was earning money from my first real job so I had plenty of disposable income.

    Months later I happened to bring it along with me on the bus for my morning commute. Read one of the essays in it, and started thinking, “Wow, YEAH! Wow! YEAH! That’s so true, oh my gosh! What a great way and novel way of framing the issue! It solves so many problems and gets around so many impasses that way.”

    So I get to work, and I google and email the author, sending what amounts to an academic crush fan letter. He writes back. We start an e-mail conversation. He ends up something of a friend and mentor, for close to two years.

    Through him I get to know about this one subset of what is now my field. I read more. I find it fascinating. I read yet more. I learn that a certain university in the south is *the* place for that subset. I meet, and briefly date, an old grad school friend of his who is a professor in DC, where I’m living at the time. I meet the mentor himself, precisely one time, when he’s in town for a conference. I apply to the masters program at the southern university and am accepted.

    Then I get an abrupt letter terminating our correspondence because he has realized that it’s inappropriate. I am despondent and hurt, and I also feel like I’ve done something icky and wrong even though I haven’t.

    However…

    At the southern university I live in a group house/intentional community where I meet my current husband and make some (so far, anyway) lifelong friends. I also decide about Ph.D work, etc. etc. Upshot is, there are two people who exist today because I happened to pick that book up.

    (Later I heard from someone that what happened was, my mentor’s wife had happened upon all our emails and thought she’d found evidence of some kind of affair. Apparently he’d not mentioned me ever. In hindsight, and as a married person with young kids, I’m better able to make sense of how it all went down and why he acted as he did. At the time it really totally sucked.)

  13. I have this great lightweight vaguely Indian embroidered jacket that I got at one of those New-Age stores, and I finally dragged it out again at the last sci-fi convention I went to, because I thought hey, I never wear that jacket and it is awesome and that is what cons are for. What seemed like half the con complemented me on it, so obviously I should wear it more often :-) I also tend to wear my “Friendly Introvert, Please Say Hi” button to cons. It works. The same button-maker also makes an “Available Introvert, Say Hi” button.

    There’s also the “She Blinded Me With Library Science” t-shirt, which almost got me offered a job. Sadly, the librarians in question did not actually have a job to offer me, but they were very delighted with the shirt, and it’s caused a number of other professional-networking opportunities on subways.

  14. limesarah, I see you are a fellow Questionable Content fan.

    I do like seeing other people with shirts relevant to my interests.

  15. I have a large earring collection and it is undoubtedly the thing I get comments on most. Whenever I go to something where I have to make conversation with strangers, I always wear an especially fabulous pair or my all-time favorite necklace. Never fails to start conversation!

  16. I am insanely fond of almost every bag Liz Claiborne makes. They’re invariably well-designed with not-too-many, not-too-few pockets, in great colors. And LC donates good money.

    But what I bond with strangers over is being a Curly Girl. Hair products are IMPORTANT.

  17. I’m a knitter and whenever I wear something I’ve made I always tend to bump into other knitters who know the pattern for what I’m wearing. Or when people who don’t knit compliment me on it and I tell them “Thank you, I knit it myself” it always starts up a conversation.

  18. Not really an accessory, but several times I’ve had people strike up conversations over my hair color (bright red or purple or pink)

    me too! I live in a dorm and on numerous occasions I’ve had people introduce themselves to me by way of “I love your hair. By the way, I’m…” I also have had people I’ve NEVER SPOKEN TO, EVER randomly ask me “hey, did you change your hair color?” And I do get a lot of random compliments (both when it was blue & now that it’s purple)

    and… since it IS Friday Fluff: fuzzyoctopus, what brand dye do you use???

  19. I’ve never understood the “bag mystique”. I never notice what purse anyone else is carrying, and the only thing I care about for my own is whether it has all the features I require (at least one outside pocket, two zippered inside pockets, and a strap long enough to go over my elbow so I can hoist it on to my shoulder with one hand – and this is pretty much impossible to find right now) and that it’s not too beat up. So the fact that people meet over purses has been my surprise of the day.

    The only thing I wear right now that starts conversations are my shiny purple glasses. They’re a great shape for my face and they’re PURPLE. I love purple. Apparently others do, too, because people smile and ask “are those PURPLE?” Why yes, yes they are.

  20. and… since it IS Friday Fluff: fuzzyoctopus, what brand dye do you use???

    Anyone using anything but Special Effects for blues and purples is INCORRECT.

    Apparently I feel so strongly about this that I just accidentally reset the text size on my browser and can’t figure out how to fix it.

  21. Actually it was ctrl + trackwheel. I got all exercised about hair dye and started hitting things and scrolling at the same time.

  22. Anyone using anything but Special Effects for blues and purples is INCORRECT.

    Ha, AGREED & my pillowcase has the stains to prove it. So glad my dye-job is fillyjonk-approved!

  23. my pillowcase has the stains to prove it.

    I recommend an old black T-shirt turned inside-out (or right-side in if you really don’t care). A men’s XL is more than big enough to cover a pillow.

  24. TropicalChrome,
    I HAVE SHINY PURPLE GLASSES TOO!!! Lets be friends forever!

    Isabel,
    SpecialEffects is awesome. I like their fire engine reds too. I saved my pillowcases by having black ones.

  25. My (or more accurately, my boyfriend’s oft-stolen) Oregon Trail “You have died of dysentery” shirt has started a couple conversations. But the weirdest way I ever made a friend was about a week before I started high school, the school was hosting a get-to-know-your-classmates pizza dinner. The girl in front of me in line had hair like mine—curly, dark brown, all the way down her back. My mother insisted that I introduce myself to her. Over ten years later, she’s still one of my best friends. And she may be lurking around here somewhere, so, Hi, Chelsea!

  26. Most of the comments I get (not many, since as an introvert I have figured out how to stay mostly invisible, and being a 40ish woman only enhances my powers) are on my graying hair. I get complements from fellow grayheads, and speculations that I color it this way from others.

    This thread has me wanting to put some deep blue streaks in amongst the silver bits, though!

  27. Ostara, I too have a “who would jesus bomb” bumper sticker. Living in the south though, not too many pacifists, I do get a couple comments from Quakers and hippies. otherwise I get vaguely dirty looks. :-)

  28. I like their fire engine reds too.

    Me too (though nothing has EVER bled onto pillowcases and clothes like Blood Red… Burgundy Wine came close), but my feeling is that anyone can do a good red (that will fade instantly, but they all do). Good blues are harder to come by.

  29. (at least one outside pocket, two zippered inside pockets, and a strap long enough to go over my elbow so I can hoist it on to my shoulder with one hand – and this is pretty much impossible to find right now)

    Hence my joy over long purse straps above. But that’s why I look at other people’s bags, if I see one I like I can beg them to tell me where they found it. :-)

  30. It’s true, Good Blues are hard. In college I taught my two (male) roommates how to dye their hair blue. I had to be very firm with them on their choices of dying product.

    I did it for them the first time, but, I am not maintaining other people blue hair, it is just too much work!

  31. I really like designer bags (I spend too much, but at this point I’m addicted) so I always notice other people’s nice bags. If someone is carrying a similar bag, I always like to complement it.

  32. In college, I had a long tail (hey, it was the 80s) that people identified me by more readily than anything else. Including the time my roommate was mortified to be told by a mutual friend that she had seen me making out with someone (a bit too vigorously) in a bar the night before. She identified me by my tail.

    For 18 or so years I’ve been a redhead, so that generates lots of comments, conversations and questions about whether it’s real or not. My favorite:
    Cute Stranger: nice color.
    Me: thanks. I like it.
    Cute Stranger: is it real?
    Me: that depends. how do you propose I prove to you whether it is or isn’t?

    But lately, it’s mostly about my handmade jewelry. Best form of advertising for selling it, too! In fact, it was all the complements and statements of “you really should sell your stuff” that got me into selling it in the first place….

  33. For me it’s earrings and other jewelry; my naked fairies swinging from my earlobes never fail to start a conversation.

  34. shinobi42, hooray for shiny purple glasses! <3

    Tricia, I must have missed the long purse strap joy, but I share it! I do! And I am very happy there are some longer strapped bags starting to be available again.

  35. Thirding the love for the seatbelt bags. I get comments really frequently, and occasionally will run into another person with a seatbelt bag. It’s fun.

  36. Socks. So many awesome conversations and friendships have started over my many and loud socks that I can’t even begin to tell you. There are stories, even. But I must go, so they must wait.

  37. I have a t-shirt with a bust of James Brown on it that I got at a thrift store for 25 cents, and it has started some great conversations. In fact, people have offered to buy it off of me at the grocery store.

  38. …And what’s the weirdest way you’ve made a friend?

    One day I saw a neighbor walking her cat, and reading as the cat moseyed along. Being new to the apartment complex and wanting friends, I struck up a conversation. “Excuse me, I’d like to learn how to walk my cat on a leash (really, I wanted to do this). Can you give me some pointers?” The woman snapped book shut, dropped it in her pocket, and said, “I’d love to!” We were dear friends for the next 20 years.

    Weirder still is that when my friend wanted to meet someone I worked with, I offered to set them up. Six months later, I still hadn’t done that. Two years later, I married the guy. My friend and I are no longer speaking, but my husband and I will soon celebrate 19 years together.

    So clothes or accessories haven’t started friendships, but a cat did!

  39. Another redhead here. My reply to “Is it real?” is, with appropriately arched eyebrow,

    “This color doesn’t come in a bottle.”

    Of course, now that my red is shot through with some silver, it’s not likely I’ll be using that snappy comeback anymore. But I like the silvers, so they stay.

  40. I made a close friend in high school geology because her top sekrit pentacle necklace fell out of her shirt. When I pointed at it, she thought I (like most of the kids at my rural high school) was going to shout “Witch! Witch! Burn her!” What I actually said was, “Where did you get that?! That’s the exact one I want but my mom won’t let me order it from the website I found!”

    She introduced me to the joys of goth and also to the majority of the rest of my circle of friends.

  41. I have this really vibrant-colored floral-patterned dress that’s gotten me quite a few compliments. This woman whose husband is a friend of my dad’s was giving away clothes and we’re roughly the same size (different shapes, though) so I got that awesome dress for free.

  42. My college pride group made T-shirts that said one of three things: “I’m not gay, but my friends are”, “I’m not straight, …”, or both, one on front and one on back. That’s the only text. Mine is the third kind, and bright turquoise (which happens to be a great color for me). I get comments nearly every time – so far, most have been positive. It’s a great conversation starter.

    Right now, the comment-getter is my winter hat, which is blue and green with a decorative woven band around the roll-up brim. Not sure what it is, but I get comments everywhere.

  43. MacNabb, you’re a redhead with silver streaks and a killer frosting recipe? hmmm. Is it possible I already know you from a list serve? (Er, not a silver-streaked redhead frosting aficionado list, but a Myers Briggs related discussion list?)

  44. People always ask about my glasses. (In case anyone wants to know, they are from Hendrix and McGuire in downtown PDX, and the manufacturer is Bella Italia.)

    People seem to love my hats too, especially this multi-red-and-purple velvet apple-cap I found in Value Village in the Capitol Hill section of Seattle. With my hair the way it is, I’m glad I can “do hats” effectively.

  45. Recently I get comments on my coats – a houndstooth check trench for winter and a red empire-waist peacoat with bell sleeves for spring. They are pretty fabulous.

    I used to get comments on my sneakers – I had bright blue, bright red, and grey with pink stripes at one time or another – which I miss, because my current pair are a sort of nondescript brown.

    My best story, though: I met my wondertwin during our first weekend of freshman year of college, when the entire school had a blackout.

  46. I was shopping in a supermarket in Denmark once, and talking to my husband in English, when a random guy came up to us and asked based on our accents if we were from New Zealand. We are, and so was he. He noticed that our shopping basket contained tomatoes, onions and spaghetti, and his had mince and red wine, and joked that between us we could make spaghetti bolognese. So that’s exactly what we did! We went over to his house and cooked dinner companionably with the combination of ingredients we had bought. He only lived half a block from the supermarket (in one direction) and so did we (in the other direction), we became great friends, and five years later, with us now living in Australia, we’ve had him and his wife visit us here, and have shared a house with his wife’s (Danish) sister for a while too.

  47. What do you own or wear that, expectedly or unexpectedly, turned out to make you a member of a community?
    Sadly, nothing. Not even when I had a green fringe.

    What item of clothing or accessory always gets comments?
    The bellydancing hipscarf I embroidered myself. It’s rectangular, black, with red and purple beaded waves.

    My hair gets a lot of comments too, just because it has a lot of volume naturally and finally, I’m not afraid of it. In this culture, volume = gypsy = bad. It is stupid because ethnically gypsy women rarely have curly or big hair, but still, the average Spanish woman fears volume in herslef and likes it in other people.

    And what’s the weirdest way you’ve made a friend?
    I think that making friends with the admin staff at my University is weird. I mean, everyone sees this woman at least once a week and maybe a total of three students in the last ten years have realised that she’s a) a human being, not a woman-shaped answering machine, b) more brilliant than most professors.

  48. I die at MissPrism’s encounter with Attenborough. DIE, I say.

    My strangest encounter was in an elevator at work. A woman next to me, who I’d seen before but didn’t know, started chatting, asking me about my baby and how old, and how sleeping was going, etc. I answered back, going through the whole panic “how do I know this person???” in the back of my head. Finally gave in and asked if we’d met before, and she laughed and said no. I asked how she knew about my baby, and she tilted her head towards my bag and said “I have the same breast pump.” (It was a Medela, supposed to look like a regular bag- in fact, it looks a lot like the bags linked to in the post!)

  49. Eee! Colleen! Oregon Trail! Such a key part of my youth. I must admit, though, that I went on a couple of completely unnecessary buffalo-slaying rampages.

    Probably the most-noticed accessory I have is my cockatiel, when I take him for walks in a little mesh carrier with a perch in it that I wear on my front like a Snuggly.

    Also, very embarrassingly, when I shaved my head out of sheer cussedness one day, I got quite a few stories about cancer experiences in the months afterwards. People would just blurt them out before I had a chance to explain, then ask me how I was doing. Since they’d just told me something very personal and probably painful, I didn’t want to humiliate them, so I’d say, “It’s okay.” And it was. Because I didn’t have cancer. Poor things.

    Not sure if this counts, but I like this story. I first saw the other party in what would be my first Epic Relationship in the hall before a college class we had together, reading. I thought to myself something on the order of, “Hm, this is a very attractive young man, and he looks quite intelligent and sensitive, as well. I wonder if that’s how he really is. Let me just sidle up here and take a peek at what he’s reading…OMG! The Dharma Bums! I shall pursue this further.” After that, things just sped along; it was a mere two months later that I actually spoke directly to him. But then, I lived pretty fast in those days.

  50. Like car, I’ve bonded over breastpumps. From the trivial – finally telling a policeman on the phone that no I really couldn’t get up and get a pencil, because I was expressing, and he started chatting about his wife doing the same – to closer connections, when I was expressing at a party and the mother of a friend told me all of her backstory (exclusively expressing for six weeks with one of those bicycle-horn pumps!).

  51. For me it’s always gothwear that causes that moment of recognition with strangers. Corsets, elaborate silver jewelry, band shirts, that kind of thing. Goths are like birds, we identify each other by our plumage.

    Wierdest moment of someone else recognising something I was wearing ever was when I went to see a band, went to shake hands with one of the guitarists and he grabbed my hand, stroked his finger over my thumbnail, grinned and said the name of the other guitarist. Ie., he realised that my nail polish color was a little nod to the color the other guy used to have his hair dyed. That was pretty funny. Hey, you have nails like my friend’s hair used to be, let’s be friends!

    Also red hair shot through with silver sounds absolutely gorgeous. And I wish I had the nerve to dye mine blue, but I do not.

  52. Dreadlocks. I had dreadlocks for two years, and there is this instant bonding that happens when you encounter another dreadie, even if it’s just eye contact and a nod. Other people who didn’t have dreads would approach me and ask me all kinds of questions (Yes, i wash my hair, no i didn’t use glue…). I cut them off over a year ago and i regret it every single day – they were waist length and gorgeous – and i can’t wait til my hair is long enough to put them in again.

  53. People always comment on my jewelry, too, and that’s when I hand ‘em a biz card.

    As for the weirdest way I’ve made friends with someone: Lo, those many years ago when I first discovered the joys of the internet via AOL, I’d been chatted up by some random HNG who claimed to like fat girls. We’d exchanged photos, and the conversation was OK, but nothing earth-shattering. Eventually the chatting petered out. BTW, the photos I’d send him were of the sort-of-racy variety, but no nudity.

    Later, I got an email from him. In it, he cruelly mocked me and all the other women who were CCed on the email, and told us he was going to post our photos on a website he was creating just to make fun of fat women who had the temerity to think we were sexy and worthy of a man’s attention. Of course it was hurtful and I was angry about it. So were the other women, as we all learned when several of us emailed the others who had been CCed. This is how I met Amanda. We kept in touch and became friends.

  54. I’m Finnish, and we don’t talk to strangers, but my My Little Pony purse is more or less the only accessory I have that gets the occasional recognition.

    And way back when I was still using ICQ, someone sent me a random message saying “I know you’re cheating on your boyfriend.” I replied back that I was actually dating a girl. We kept in touch for a couple of years.

  55. To an outsider, this probably looked normal: meet girl on college tour for accepted students, request to room together, be friends. But the internal logic left…. something to be desired. It went like this:

    “OMG, I can’t wait to go to college and finally be out of the closet. Hey, that girl is wearing a bandana on her head! I bet she’s friendly towards queer folks! Let’s make friends!”

    Why bandana = queer-friendly, I have NO idea. It was high school logic. But, to my credit, I was totally right, we liked the same music, and we’re still friends 9 years later.

  56. I’m so glad I saw this today! It makes me feel so much better! Yesterday I had to deal with a lecture on how I’m “too friendly” and it’s dangerous, and I need to stop striking up conversations with strangers, and it was wrong to answer the guy at the fast-food window with “fine thanks, and you?” when he asked how I was, etc…

    If you hadn’t guessed from that little rant, I make friends in weird ways ALL THE TIME. I have some really great conversations as a result of random contact with people who happen to be in my vicinity. Sure, I get in trouble sometimes too, but nothing dangerous (so far, knock on wood!) and I do actually have a set of, you know, instincts, and I listen to them. I even learn some valuable things from the not-so-nice people, actually.

    At any rate I wouldn’t trade my ability to make people feel at ease for anything. It’s part of who I am.

  57. omg, SugarLeigh, “fine, thanks, and you?” With provocation like that, that drive-thru guy is totally going to leap through two sets of windows and attack you!!

    No, seriously, I envy you the ability to make friends with random strangers. It’s not so much a part of who I am, but I know several people like that and I’ve always admired them for that. Maybe I should take some tips from this thread and wear more remarkable clothing/accessories so that the strangers will start the conversations for me.

  58. Oh, and as for clothing that gets me noticed, hmm. Well, no, usually more so than the broomstick skirts and bandanas or bun-cage for my hair, people notice when I blow bubbles in public, which I love to do, especially in early spring when the sun euphoria sets in.

    Though one time I was in Taco Bell at like, midnight, because I hadn’t had dinner and I didn’t feel like cooking, and because I assumed I’d be out for ten minutes tops, I was wearing pajama pants, a sweatshirt, and my Minnetonka boots (which are these leather-and-lambskin clunky fuzzy numbers, not exactly style but so warm and cozy and worth every penny in MI winters!). Some guy was in front of me in the line, and he turned, and smiled, so I smiled back, and we exchanged pleasantries, and he said, “so, you wanna go do something?” And I was like, “what, you mean now?” and so we walked across the street and played pool. I hung out and talked with him for a couple hours.

    He taught me a few things about hate. I learned that it doesn’t do me any good to feel hate towards people I’ve never met, not even people who hold beliefs I find objectionable, because, well… it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Here was a guy who was, well, pretty reprehensible really, but he was also clearly hurting, and raised in an environment where he was able to nurture these wicked notions unchecked. I couldn’t have hated him even had I wanted to, I was too busy feeling sad that people can get that way. I was glad I took the time to listen to someone who knew he was being horrible but was begging for someone to listen to him anyway. Not something I’d do on a regular basis mind, but… if even someone with a wicked heart can reach out to someone else, it means he still HAS a heart. I hope someday, something is strong enough to REACH it, but in the meantime I hope I can be an advocate for the things I believe in in a better way, because I know more about what I’m fighting and why.

  59. I met one of my exes because he was intrigued when he saw me in class using a pencil as a hair accessory.

  60. I get comments on my handbags as well. Because my mother loves to give me wacky bags for Christmas. So, I’ve had many conversations with strangers about them, as I rotate them in and out of circulation.

    I have Bessie the sequined cow, the one made of leather cutout monkeys, and now The Toad.

    http://www.mcphee.com/items/11441.html

    Yes, I actually carry a bag shaped like a toad.

    When I have to pretend to be a grownup, I carry my metallic purple Kathy Van Zeeland bag with all the sparkly shit dangling off of it. It’s a few seasons old, though, so it’s not on her website anymore. I’m surprised by how many teenage girls are crazy about that purse. I didn’t know I was trendy!

  61. I’m pretty introverted, so I love to stock my wardrobe with Conversation Starters(TM) to give me a boost. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of my love for witty/cute/fangirly t-shirts. Sometimes this method of connecting with others fails me, though. I have this Dr. Horrible shirt that I have worn to bookstores, coffee shops, and other promising places and been shocked and saddened by the TOTAL LACK OF RECOGNITION DAMMIT. Having just ONE stranger come up and comment on it has become a cherished dream of mine.

    Probably the best story I have relating to meeting-through-accessories, though, is how I met my husband. We were in high school; I was a sophomore, he was a freshman. He turned my head as soon as I saw him stalking quietly through the halls, dressed all in black with a dirty blond ponytail, wire-rimmed glasses, and a giant ankh necklace. One day I managed to get behind him in the cafeteria line and complimented him on his necklace (although he argues that I actually commented on his shirt); he complimented me on the buttons I had on my backpack or something; and the rest became history. <3

  62. Kitty, that shirt is actually on my wish list right now. I would comment on it if I saw you!!

    My nerdy t-shirt collection includes Trogdor and Harry and the Potters (the Save Ginny shirt in green, in case anyone’s curious). I can’t recall anyone actually commenting on one of them, but I still hold out hope. Other nerdy t-shirts I have seen and coveted include XKCD shirts, shirts that say “it’s all greek to me” in latin, and the one that says “And God said [long string of physics equations] and there was light.” The last two are particularly ironic in their nerdiness since I am not a physicist, and I don’t speak any Greek or Latin. What can I say? I’m a poser. :)

  63. “And God said [long string of physics equations] and there was light.”

    I used to have that shirt, I bought it at a shop near Harvard square when I visited my son at MIT in 1995. I outgrew it though.

  64. Antlers on my car at Christmas.

    Bunny ears on my car at Easter.

    Shiny purple glasses.

    Tee shirt with the international “No” symbol (red circle with line through it), says “No Whining.”

  65. SugarLeigh wrote: it was wrong to answer the guy at the fast-food window with “fine thanks, and you?” when he asked how I was

    You have GOT to be kidding me. Seriously. It’s not wrong, it’s basic human politeness in my book. I always answer such a question in a very similar fashion and fully intend to go on doing so.

    nonegiven (or anyone else): I don’t know if you’re looking for another copy of that shirt, but there are three Maxwell’s Equations shirts at Pegasus Publishing, two of which are available in larger sizes. Disclaimer: I’ve bought shirts from them at science fiction conventions and liked them, but I’m not associated with them and can’t speak to mail ordering from them since I haven’t.

  66. I’ve bonded over Perlina purses (I’ve carried one of two bags for the last 8 years and just finally broke down and bought a new one). Got into an interesting discussion once that started with Perlina and traveled over to compare/contrast society’s treatment of women with anorexia (co-worker) and obesity (me). I’ve bonded over cute shoes (when I could wear them) and Birkenstocks. The “accessory” though that got me into the most conversations leading to friendship was appearing in public with my twins when they were young. Disclaimer: no, I don’t think kids are a fashion statement :-) , just going with the theme.

  67. Most of the time when someone randomly decides to befriend me it has more to do with the fact that I wear my naturally curly hair naturally curly. I find it to be a barometer of open-mindedness: people who talk to me generally are more accepting of other people and people who don’t are generally more conforming. It’s a weird thing because it’s such a little thing: the decision not to spend an extra hour of my life to conform to what society thinks I should look like. If I’m fat I might as well show I’m trying by wearing makeup and straightening my hair, right?

    I credit my hair with helping me to get such a group of loudmouthed multicultural women for my friends.

  68. I wear hats often, which glean me compliments. I’m surprised how many women say, “Oh, I can’t wear hats!” It’s not that hard.
    What they mean, of course, is that they don’t think they look good in them, but I think almost everybody does. The tricky part is finding hats that just look like accessories instead of costumery. You don’t want the hat to be wearing YOU.
    When I meet another hat lady, we always have a lot in common besides hats.

  69. SugarLeigh – since when is being friendly wierd or unwise? The way I see it, why not be friendly? Of course if it’s not your personality or you’re not in the mood then it shouldn’t be obligatory, but for me it brightens my day as well as other people’s to actually acknowledge people when they talk to me, smile at them etc. It bugs me how acceptable it is to treat people in customer service positions like coffee/gas/food/bus ride home dispensing robots.

    A few months ago I went into a Chinese restuarant I hadn’t been to in a while (used to work near there, don’t any more) and the first thing I heard from the waiter was “hey, where have you been?”. And then I got to hear all about his wife’s trip to China to introduce the kids to her grandparents, and commiserate about how the bad economy is affecting both of our businesses, and so on. And you know, that never would have happened if I wasn’t in the habit of answering questions like “how are you?” with “not bad, how are you? hey, you cut your hair, …”

    I get that some people have social anxiety etc which effectively prevents them from being that friendly with strangers, but the idea that it’s somehow BAD to be that way just seems really wierd to me.

  70. I made two friends in university, because we were wearing the same beautiful scarf. Just looked at each other, smiled and started talking^^

    Now that I lost this special scarf somewhere in Japan I feel really bad….

  71. @AuroraErratic — If you ever feel like taking on a potential-hat-wearer charity case, may I volunteer? I’d love to wear hats but I have no eye for style and I have a very large head to boot. Do you know any sources for women’s hats that fit very large heads and don’t cost upwards of a hundred dollars? I would love to wear hats. They always make me smile.

  72. This is one of the reasons I love being a paleontologist – I can go out in the field in an awesome fedora and it doesn’t look weird, just part of the standard getup.

  73. I get a lot of compliments on my glasses (http://www.flickr.com/photos/onseahorses/3331524202/ – I’m on the right >.>), including a crazy (awesome) older man who owns a super-eclectic art store near my hometown who said yesterday, “and there’s a lady who has the courage to wear frames like THAT!” lol.

    I was talking to someone after an audition, and we were walking in the same direction–it turned out we lived across the hall from each other in the dorm. :) We’ve been friends ever since.

    Also, my mom invited me to an event yesterday afternoon and I went, and ended up hanging out with a bunch of engineering students from the University of Wisconsin all day/most of the night. We played Cranium; it was pretty great.

  74. honestly, my leg/pit hair. it sounds silly, but i’ve met quite a few girl-types who i’ve been making small talk with and then they notice my legs (i wear skirts year-round, though this usually happens in warmer weather) and are all ‘you don’t shave? that’s awesome!’ and sometimes pull up their pant legs and show me theirs.

    also, junx from gravy train!!!! complemented my diy huggy bear tee. that was nice.

  75. Oh, Fillyjonk! I’ve been going along happily with my 7″ Record truckette for years now, but I’m sorely, sorely tempted by the black sprout truckette. Why couldn’t the brown have cute leaf colors? Then I could ‘justify’ it. :)

    The truckette has started a few conversations, though hasn’t sparked any friendships. I’m an extrovert/introvert hybrid, though, so don’t make too many on-the-fly friendships. Having moved again recently, though, I figure I’ll need to start changing that …

    One brief friendship sparked after I commented on her eyeliner (a wonderfully elaborate design), and she said she’d noticed me pulling a tab off of a CalPIRG flyer. The rest have tended to evolve slowly, without distinct starting lines.

  76. @ Lisa

    So how do you walk a cat? I’d like to get a cat in the next few months (my baby of 9 years passed on a couple of years ago) and I’d like to take the new kitty for walkies.

  77. My daughter gave me a faux Coach bag one Christmas, and it’s sturdy and a handy size so I use it for everything. I’m surprised by how many people have commented on what a great bag it is. Sometimes I fess up that it’s Foach, but sometimes that would make the complimenter feel funny so I just nod and smile benignly and try to comport myself like a woman who has hundreds of dollars to spend on accessories!!

  78. It’s always about my hair. Always.

    It’s not long at all, but it’s ridiculously thick, and thus, huge. No one ever wants to touch it, but I get asked a lot of questions about how the hell I manage to comb it. The conversation tends to evolve from there.

  79. I know this post is, like, ancient. But I had to pop back in and say how ashamed I am that I knew I recognized the title from somewhere but I had to actually Google it to find out it was Beavis and Butthead Do America. *hangs head*

    At least I can say that as soon as I saw that, I remembered pretty much the whole scene…Butthead hitting on Chelsea Clinton, if I remember correctly. Then I remembered that I went to see it in theaters with my entire family – parents included. I was probably like 12.

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