There's this scene in the now cult classic movie"Dirty Dancing" where Baby meets Johnny for the first time. Johnny is the resident hottie and rebel in this story (shocker, I mean, it's Patrick Swayze in a muscle shirt and tight pants). We won't discuss the feathered-hair-sorta-mullet. Anywhoo, Baby has this fairly sizable watermelon in her arms and she's NOT allowed in the staff quarters. But she's bored and intrigued by the music playing in the distance. And maybe unconsciously she's itching to leave her childhood behind and do something different — maybe even a little dangerous. As trivial as it is, the watermelon in her arms symbolizes her ticket to her womanhood as we find out later on. Ahem. Moving along.
So, Johnny asks her why she's there with an air of hostility. She's a GUEST. I mean the nerve of this entitled little brat. Doesn't she get enough of him and his staff all day? Now she has to encroach on their after-hour fun too? And all Baby can muster (with her heart pounding in her head and the blaring realization that standing in front of her is a bonafide real man) is "I carried a watermelon". This seems like an acceptable answer to Johnny given the context. It's a party, it's summer time, it's hot, and it's truly the watermelon season. Obviously, his doofus of a cousin can't carry all the watermelons. And in an entire resort he couldn't possibly have snuck out some sort dolly to put them in.That would require his cousin to think on his feet. Johnny nods his head when Baby says this, then turns around and gets back on the dance floor. Baby feels inadequate. She wanted her first words to be something sexy and sophisticated, instead they were utilitarian and functional. She's not the wild rebel of a woman coming to get her groove on and seduce the resort bad boy. She's the watermelon carrier.And so begins the love story between Baby and Johnny. Awkward. Weird. Completely relatable.
I've been thinking about these "I carried a watermelon" moments lately. I've come to the conclusion that try as we might to get out of our own one-act plays in our minds and perceptions of the world it's a near impossibility. I'm the star of my own reality just as you are the star of yours. We may have supporting roles in each others' reality, but ultimately I can never fully grasp your perception of the world and you can never fully grasp mine. Which is why connecting at all with another living soul seems like such a miracle. With all these awkward moments and the astronomically high probability of misinterpreting each other's intentions, actions and even meaning of our words, it is astounding we connect at all.
And you think you'll be able to avoid these "I carried a watermelon" moments later in life. Somehow you'll become a sophisticated adult who never fumbles for words and can channel your inner sage at any given moment. And guess what? You won't. I still fumble. In fact I fumbled the other day when I told a colleague they could call any time. What I meant to say was that I was here for them as a mentor. How it came out? Gosh. I cringe just thinking about it. And the thing is I won't ever really know how they interpreted it. Unless I muster the courage to be honest and ask this person what it meant to them. Which brings me to my next point.
Behind "the cringe" is a chance to start a conversation. Since we can't possibly know each other's minds or experience each other's reality, we may need to nurture a sense of curiosity and a healthy sense of humor about it all. I could go back to my colleague and have a good laugh at how dramatic my sentiment may have come across.Baby could go back to Johnny (in the fictional world) and tell him that she wanted to be Jessica Rabbitesque in their first encounter, but one look at his sorta mullet made her go weak in the knees. I dunno guys. I'm improvising here. My point, is that we take life too seriously. Some of us more than others. My fellow introverts I'm especially talking to you. And I think we're hardwired to lighten up. I'm SURE our ancestors had comedy. They had to. This human experience is too darn everything not to.
All this talk of fruit is making me hungry. In that spirit, happy fall, y'all. Watermelon season may be over, but pumpkin-spice everything has begun. And I'm sure there are "I carried a pumpkin" cringe moments ahead of me.