On Poetry and Culture Shock

Babies are great

The Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina often tells that during his first trip to New York, he was having dinner with American friends at a posh restaurant and one of those children that can’t sit still, so they run from table to table, went straight to him. In a perfectly natural impulse, Muñoz Molina ruffled the wee boy’s hair. That caused a bit of a riot in the restaurant, the indignant mother of the child went to drag him back and the American friends of the writer told him NEVER to do something like that again. Rule One: do not touch American kids in case you’re mistaken for a kidnapper or something worse. I saw that rule being very true in Washington DC, but not in Ithaca.

Saving for that type of anomaly, I think there is an universal law that says that it is perfectly fine to talk to strangers under any circumstances if they have babies. Babies are a social magnet (hence the myth that men taking care of children are sexy: they seem more approachable). Like this one, see. I was using my laptop in a place with a wireless connection and plenty of children’s toys and here comes a woman with a toddler. Toddler’s age: old enough to walk without help, but not much older. Ten minutes later, the mother and I where talking about the baby’s age, her nationality, her husband’s job, the baby’s bilingualism…

Are you lonely and want to make friends? Borrow a baby and take it wherever you go!

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