When I was in my early youth, I could not stand the woo girls. Still can’t, actually. But I must say that anytime you compliment a woo girl on her shoes, her new earrings, or her choice in men, you will receive an instant connection, albeit a superficial connection to a person you may never again speak with. “I know, right? I wear them all the time! Thanks!” (This response is unfortunately for the shoes or the earrings or the guys… eww.)
Disliking the shallow nature of the woo girl and everything she stands for, I am clearly out of the habit of complimenting strangers in public places. In fact, since I have moved to the Upper Midwest, no one I have met fully appreciates the open nature of the East Coast girl. “Hey, cute shoes” would be met with an up-down-look and lip curl and “Um, thanks?” Well, I guess you’re welcome for nothing, Miss Culture Clash.
You can see how I have gotten gun-shy about speaking to strangers on this topic. A few comments that others and I have considered uplifting, connective, and harmless in my former home are misunderstood and interloping in my new home.
I stood in front of a mirror in the ladies restroom lobby at the Universal Studios Guest Services last week. Checking out my reflection, anticipating the next 14 hours of pictures and posing in front of photo opp areas, I stood next to a Latina woman also primping and finger-combing her hair.
“I love your bracelets. They are just gorgeous.” I pointed at her thick, wooden bangles and cooed over her taste in jewelry. She had 2 or 3 of them on each arm, oak lacquered and rounded. A pretty brunette woman standing next to her pointed at me in the mirror and said in a most Massachusetts accent, “Oh, and your necklace is just sick… Love the turquoise and silver! Gorgeous!” For the next minute or so, the three of us pointed and shoulder nudged and complimented each other’s use of flea market shopping and nuevo vintage finds.
And then we left the lobby to begin a long day of theme park revelry with our corresponding families, content with the cheerful connection we made with other jewelry-wearing strangers. Fun times.
Still waiting for my mother, who also needed to primp and fuss and finger comb her hair for pictures, I stood near doorway of the Guest Services lobby. The woman with the wooden bangle bracelets up both of her arms returned to the doorway. She held one of her bracelets in her fingertips. “I want you to have this.”
I can only guess what my face reflected, my surprise and seriousness of the gravity of such a kind gesture given woman to woman. I paused only a beat before stepping up to her and saying, “My name is Colleen. What is yours?”
“Rosa.” She even had the precious R-rolling thing that thrills my senses.
She kissed me on the cheek when we hugged, and choking back tears at the sweep of emotion through a spontaneous connection we made, I told her, “Thank you, Miss Rosa. I will pray for you and your family.”
Miss Rosa, the anti-woo girl, has it all figured out. (HIMYM reference: She does not cry in the shower, and she is a mom, as I noticed when her beautiful family walked away with her toward the Studios gate.)
The fact that I am easy to please but hard to impress says a great deal about my interaction with Rosa. I learned simple lessons on beauty, generosity, human connections, and the power of serendipity from 2 minutes with a stranger.
Miss Rosa, I think of you every morning when I slide on my beautiful, wooden bangle bracelet!