SOL2015 March 3 The Choreographed Catch Up
There was a time when visiting each others homes was a somewhat spontaneous thing to do. At least it was during my childhood. Family and friends would drop in, or call by when passing. ‘Just passing and thought we would call in and see how you all were,’ was an expression I heard frequently when growing up.
Those visitors came armed with treats- cakes, tarts and cream sponges or flowers, fruit and vegetables. The bearing of gifts was seen as an entrée to the visitation. It seemed right to come calling bearing gifts.
As a child ‘dropping in’ was accompanied by hugs, kisses and an abundance of smiles. In our house the arrival of guests would instinctively prompt one of the adults to suggest that the making of a pot of tea was the most appropriate next step in this social ritual. Eventually men and women would gravitate to different ends of the kitchen. The conversation flowed easily. Time flew by quickly.
The kids would gradually move in the direction of the backyard to play a game, check out a bike, climb a tree or, slink off to the bedroom to check some new whizzbang toy. It was relaxed and easy socializing.
Today, a lot of people tend to lock themselves away in their castles and caves. Spontaneous visits have diminished. We maintain a sense of being time poor or we rationalize our actions and in-actions on the grounds that a spontaneous visit may be unwelcome. People frequently choose to go out to meet each other. It appears the catch up is increasingly conducted in non man’s land. Neutral ground is preferred People phone or text messages friends and ‘arrange’ to meet somewhere known to both parties. ‘Let’s meet at Café Blah for a coffee on Tuesday afternoon. Does 1.00 pm work for you? ‘ The catch up is choreographed. It has a fail safe escape clause if needed. ‘Look, gotta rush, I just remembered I have pick up something from the dry cleaners.’
I say this because today I sat in my café of choice and listened to two groups of people doing the catch up routine. They hadn’t caught for ages it seemed. Been so busy, they said. Must do this again soon, they said after their short exchange. All neatly and tidily enacted. Then off they scuttled in different directions to resume their harried lives.