On my recent holiday to Thailand I ate a great deal of pasta and icecream, read several books of great consequence, read several more magazines of zero consequence, and engaged in a brief, traumatic fish pedicure*.
I also attempted to make some new friends, with 'attempted' being the operative word. My husband and I generally seek people out when we travel for a length of time. It's not that we get bored with each other's company. It's just that we... ahem... run out of things to talk about. After I've read my husband virtually every interesting passage of my book, shown him every inconsequential picture in my magazine, and pointed out every funny/cute/annoying/dangerous thing that any of the kids have done, the only topic left is the weather. And, as my husband generally experiences the weather simultaneously to me, there are no great revelations there.
We need external stimulation.
Over the course of the week we befriended two lovely couples, chatting, having a drink together, sharing the horrors of the fish pedicure, and, eventually, exchanging contact details.
However, things did not go as smoothly with Couple Number 3. Now, CN3 were a gorgeous looking young couple with a young daughter, who, as it turned out, live very close to us in Sydney. And when we talked to them, they seemed very pleasant. Strangely, though, no matter how hard we tried to connect with them - offering them seats next to us by the pool or inviting them to join us for lunch - they would smile non-committedly and disappear. I was a bit baffled by their behaviour until it dawned on me a couple of days later: I don't think these people like me.
The thought was shocking. Now, it's not that everyone in the world likes me. Far from it. There are some people who get to know me and decide I am just not their cup of tea (I know! But it's true!) However, I pride myself on being able to make people like me on first impressions. No... I need people to like me on first impressions. Making people like me is what I do.
But with this couple, I just couldn't do it. I smiled my broadest smile. I put on the charm. I asked them lots of questions about themselves and their little girl. I told jokes. I smiled some more. And nothing. NOTHING.
'Maybe they just don't want company?' my husband speculated, as I slumped rejectedly** on my sun lounge.
'Maybe,' I answered, pepping up slightly. At dinner that night, the couple were sitting with a family from the US. 'And maybe not,' I said, slumping again.
In the end, I couldn't crack CN3. I had to accept that - as much as it hurt - they simply didn't like me.
So I left Thailand having had a brilliant time, but with a tiny little piece of my heart broken (using 'heart' in the sense of 'ego').
Still, I did leave with one small consolation.
The fish loved me.
*A fish pedicure involves immersing the feet in a tank of water containing hundreds of tiny fish, which nibble the dead skin off the your feet. I did it because I was dared by my husband, who squealed like a little girl and pulled his own feet out of the water after the very first fish started nibbling his toe. I lasted approximately two minutes and 35 seconds, and consequently outdared my husband, but feel that the lasting damage sustained to my psyche was not worth the victory.
**which obviously isn't a word, but should be.