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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Open Arms

Have you ever welcomed a complete stranger into your circle of friends? Since starting Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven a couple years ago, I've had some great opportunities to meet new friends - friends I would have never met had it not been for blogging.

Last October I received an e-mail from a very intelligent guy who read Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. Intelligent, obviously, because he read HTTO. He expressed empathy for the depression and angst I was going through at the time, and he asked if we could hang out sometime.

"i don't have a circle of friends in the area and i would love to meet more people, and you and yours seem grounded, compassionate, and fun-loving."

Since the time he wrote that e-mail last fall, The Professor has become firmly entrenched in my circle of friends. Tonight we're going to celebrate his birthday at Montage. I remember the day I received his e-mail. I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea to invite him to join us. What if he turned out to be a psycho crazy nutjob? (Then I'd want to date him.)

I'm glad a took a chance on The Professor. He's engaging and articulate and funny and, well, very attractive. And, by the way, not available. If I hadn't welcomed him into my life, I'd be missing out on a lot. I still laugh about one late night drive-thru experience we shared at Taco Bell.

Professor: Hey, they didn't give me my chicken soft taco.

Hot Toddy: (to Taco Bell employee) Ma'am, you guys forgot the chicken soft taco.

Taco Bell Girl: Are you sure? Did you check under the quesadilla?

Hot Toddy: Yes, ma'am. We moved around all the contents of the bag and looked under everything. There is no chicken soft taco.

They gave him his chicken soft taco. Later, as we drove home, The Professor and I cracked up.

Professor: What kind of question was that? 'Did you look under the quesadilla??'

Hot Toddy: Like we're that stupid.

Professor: Oh, you mean there could be something underneath the quesadilla?? Oh, we didn't think to look under the quesadilla!

Hot Toddy: I wonder if they teach them that in orientation. 'Make sure the customer checks under the quesadilla for misplaced food. Sometimes things shift in the bag'

Recently I received an e-mail from Jeff, a local blogger who reads Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. Jeff hasn't had an easy go of it. He's quite open about his struggles on his blog, so I'm not sharing anything he hasn't already talked about publicly. Although I didn't know Jeff at all, something about his honest writing and the way he expressed his desire for friendship left no doubt in my mind that I wanted him to join me and the gang for drinks.

Last night he came to CC Slaughters for drinks and karaoke. He was quiet and a little nervous, but he smiled in a way that seemed to indicate he was genuinely enjoying himself and the company he was in. It made me happy to think he might be feeling less lonely and that he was becoming more at ease with each moment. I watched him chatting with Pony and Chopper and others at the bar.

I have always loved making new friends. But, even more, I think I enjoy watching my new friends build relationships with other people I've introduced them to. It makes me feel like I'm actually having a positive impact on someone's life. I often tease Pony and Auburn Pisces for becoming best friends and leaving me out. But it's all in jest. (The more they hang out with each other, the more time I have for World of Warcraft.) Ever since I introduced them, their friendship has grown stronger and stronger. Now he talks to her more frequently than he talks to me. It doesn't bother me. It makes me happy to have played a part in bringing two people together.

There are way too many of us in the world for anybody to be lonely. There's no excuse for it. Don't be lonely! Don't let someone be lonely!

Jeff, you hang in there. You're going to be just fine. Here's to you and the new friendships I know you'll make.

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