I have a new obsession. Some people get caught up with endless musing on Heidi Klum or Brad Pitt. Others take to hobbies from skateboarding to knitting like ducks to water, and spend many an hour boring friends on their latest jump or – erm – stitch. And some become couch potatoes, frantically racing home from the office in order to tune into the latest crime scene or cop show (I could just save you the bother – the culprit’s always the nice friend who you saw briefly in the third scene).
But none of those are for me. After all, I’m all about the TV box sets these days, and it’d probably take me four years to knit a scarf that went around
Action ManGI Joe’s neck. Instead, I’ve discovered community meetings.
As far as I’m concerned, there are two types of meeting. There’s the community gathering around to take decisive action for the improvement of all, and those meetings and collectives can can be pretty inspiring. Indeed, I’m (relatively) active in one such group, to bring a food coop to the part of Brooklyn in which I live.
In terms of real entertainment value though, you have to go to the events where the people who don’t otherwise get to talk much in life get let off their leash. These gatherings generally have a vague theme, whether it’s security in the neighbourhood or environmental concerns. But essentially they turn into an ill-disguised competition in which the participants attempt to make the most tangential leap between the topic at hand, and the subject that they want to talk about. In other words, if you go to some kind of forum on improving public transport, you will almost certainly end up listening to a 30 minute diatribe on how the penne arrabbiata at the local Italian has gone downhill since Giuseppe left. To be fair, he left on a bus, but that’s hardly the point.
Then there’s the person who is prepared to stick to the topic, but wants to dissect the most trivial point in enough depth to write a thesis. The effectiveness of the subway system is an important topic to most New Yorkers; whether the word “Metro Card” appears in blue or green on your weekly pass, not so much.
And don’t forget the person who speaks with incredible authority but actually doesn’t know a single thing that he or she is talking about. I can listen to those people for hours, as they make outlandish claims after outlandish claim, as if they’ve taken a bet to see who can make the most ridiculous suggestion in a public setting. As a result, I’m now well-versed in concealing my laughter/anger/astonishment* (*delete as appropriate) behind literature collected at the door, as if I’m paying particularly close attention or taking notes.
It’s an obsession I need to get under control before it gets out of hand. If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself infiltrating young Republican gatherings, just to hear their views on climate change. And no amount of paper infront of my mouth will save me then.
Perhaps it’s time to take up knitting after all?