So Martin Luther King Jr. Day has become my new favorite holiday. Waking up early that Monday, I was â��informedâ�� by Emily, my business partner/best friend, that she â��wasnâ��t sure if I got the memo but in case I hadnâ��t, it was a holiday and we were taking the day off.â�� Bare in mind that when you actually run the organization, you get to make these last-minute, game-changing decisions and your only challenge is to not creatively justify taking every day off. That being said, we got dressed and headed to Toast, the best breakfast spot in LA.
After scarfing down my favorite breakfast scramble, ironically and appropriately called, “The Favorite,” we headed for mimosas at The Belmont. And that’s when it happened. Emily, as she tends to do, took the taboo out of the taboo because midway through our fresh-squeezed, orange juice mimosa, a gorgeous guy strolled up and casually slipped into the booth across the room from us. After two fake “bathroom” visits to walk past him in order to do a little reconnaissance, we decided that he was, in fact, eating alone. We spent the next 20 minutes thinking up absurd, hilarious backstories as to who this mystery man was — a 21st Century Shakespeare, an Abercrombie model with a Nobel Laureates’ mind or a motocross, guitar playing, professor with a Ph.D. on “the extent of love personified through various cultures” (my personal favorite). Finally, as giggling girls do, we moved the conversation to a far more profound topic; what movie we were going to go see on our impromptu day off.
Minutes passed and after two hours as well as one and a half mimosas, I really did have a reason to visit the loo. Upon my return, I walked out to the patio where we were sitting and after a quick scan of our booth, realized Emily was nowhere to be found. Glancing around the room, I found her, shoulder to shoulder, having squeezed into the booth of the good-looking stranger who weâ��d been staring at as he chowed down on his burger. Naturally, I speed-walked back to my seat where I grabbed my phone and pretended to fire off an urgent text to an imaginary person. Sure enough, three minutes later Emily had invited our new friend, Derek, back to our table. He nonchalantly walked over, introduced himself and as he broke into a body-melting smile, I giggled like a 13-year-old on her first date, looked away and attempted to get my name out.
Emily spoke up and said, â��Hereâ��s the deal; itâ��s ridiculous for us not to hang out. We think youâ��re cute, saw you from across the way eating by yourself, came up with backstories of who you were out of sheer curiosity and rather than have you literally walk in and out of our lives without so much as a â��helloâ�� is a waste. Plus I saw you checking my best friend out, so why not come meet her? Anyhow, Iâ��m not sure what youâ��re up to for the rest of the day, but weâ��d love to have you join us.â��
There was a long pause before he smiled and said, â��You know, Iâ��d love to.â��
That’s when it dawned on me, how often we see someone in the elevator, walk past someone on the street and never have the guts to say anything. I’ll speak for myself and say, all the time. A million insecurities pop up that prevent me from putting myself out there and it’s only at my expense. For all we knew that day our gorgeous stranger could have had a girlfriend or was arrogant or a bona fide jerk. Then again, he wasn’t and we’d have never known if we didn’t meet him. He was kind, surprisingly funny and had a fascinating backstory that was far better than the ones we made up for him.
Whether it’s the cute guy standing next to you in the grocery store, the quirky girl ordering at Starbucks in front of you, or a myriad of other interesting people you come into contact with on a daily basis, my newfound courage and mere suggestion is to just say "Hi." Smile, even if all you get are those momentary seconds to interact. Honestly, what do you have to lose? All I know is a single, bold conversation that my best friend initiated lead to an all-day hang out with a lovely, sweet man. And while it may not end up that way every time, it’s worth making new friends and listening to someone’s interesting story. After all, I’m pretty sure the whole point is to live, love and share life.Images courtesy of Okaygreat.com, Emilygyoung.com