Weekend Assignment #317: Merry Meetings
People used to socialize with each other on street corners, at cocktail parties, at club meetings, and in a later era, at shopping malls. These days, however, we seem to do most of our socializing online. Where do you go most often for face time with friends and acquaintances?
“Christmas means family. And family means friends. And friends means…gettin’ together. And gettin’ together means…EATIN’! KnowhatImean? Ithinkyoudo. Thank you, thankyouverymuch.”
Bad Elvis impersonations and novelty holiday music aside, the message here is true for me – social gatherings cannot happen without food. If they do, they don’t really count.
I grew up in an Italian-American family where visitors were always offered something to eat, even if they just dropped by unannounced…and they were expected to stay long enough to eat it. If it wasn’t mealtime, coffee or tea and cake or cookies would be offered, at the very least.
Since I rarely drink alcohol, getting together over coffee and something sweet to nibble still feels right to me, but the days of the unannounced drop-by are long gone – call first, because the people you want to see may not even be home. Actually, call their cell phones, because chances are you’ll both out and about, and it’s easier to meet up in a public location and leave the coffee-and-cake prep to someone else.
The place I’m most likely to meet up with people is the place that I suspect most people are most likely to meet up these days: Starbucks, or whatever your preferred coffeehouse may be. When people’s schedules are too packed to get together over a real meal, it seems they can usually find time for a little catching up over a coffee somewhere. Most coffee places these days have a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks and things to eat; you can go there at any time of day from early morning to after dinner, the atmosphere is usually not rushed, and it’s not too noisy to sit and have a decent conversation (unless the machines are unusually loud). My sister and I have a standing weekend-morning coffee and breakfast date at Starbucks (although we can’t make it happen every weekend), and it’s always a highlight of my week.
But when it works out, socializing over a real meal is even better. I got together with some LA Moms Blog friends not long ago at a “tasting party” for LooHoo’s Asian Comfort Food, where we were fed well on dumplings and noodles and enjoyed each other’s company (and, as one of the few non-Asians present, I was quite enlightened by some of the conversation!). My recent meet-up with my book-blogging buddies at the LA Times Festival of Books would have felt like it was missing something if we hadn’t been able to wind up our day over dinner at Jerry’s Deli.
And that reminds me of the ideal place to meet – a coffeeshop/café inside or adjoining a bookstore!
When you meet friends in the off-line world, where do you like to go?