Ice Breakers in the era of social media. Easier or far more complicated?


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I was recently at a gallery event admiring a colorblocked painting covered with brilliant butterflies when another guest sauntered over, squinted at the price and title card, then stepped back to my side. “Transmogrification?” he sounded out the title.

“Evolution?” I guessed.

He coughed and cleared his throat.

“Rebirth.” A voice chimed from behind us. Undoubtedly the gallery curator.

“More like a mutation,” the man next to me murmured, flashed a fake smile and finger waved at the art enthusiast.

My eyes drifted back to the image on canvas and I tilted my head. Rebirth it is.

“So,” Mr. Chatty rocked back and forth on his heels. “What’s your handle?”

Huh? Handle? My brain synapses expanded and stretched, elongating through time like wax blobs in a lava lamp. Back to 1978, to a suburb of Chicago, inside a neighbor’s detached garage. The overhead door was open, a tan and brown paneled stretched station wagon filled half the space. Parked. Packed with a dozen kids talking to truckers on a CB radio. (The family, ironically, from Oklahoma; talk about foreshadowing.)

“That’s a big 10-4 good buddy,” the oldest of the neighbor kid clan answered. “Blue eyes and pony tail here.” It probably goes without saying but, at the time, she was president of Leif Garrett’s fan club. Our leader glanced around the wagon and gave a curt nod. “Gettin’ ready to put the hammer down,” she said, double-keyed the mike and we all hopped out of the wagon for an impromptu Chinese fire drill. That was the last time I remember anyone asking me for my “handle”, in person or otherwise.

The pliable wax brain bubbles of the past consolidated and the red incandescent lava light went dark. Flash forward. Back to 2015. “Handle?” I repeated to the art admirer next to me.

“Yeah, your handle,” he buried a hand in his pants pocket.

Wait, he can’t possibly be...I glanced at my wedding ring. Nah, I must be turned around. I reminded myself that pick-up lines of my day sounded more like, “Hey ladies, you want to try it inverted?” (Remember it was Daytona Beach and an aviation university, where the males outnumbered the females roughly one hundred to one. No excuse, but a reason.)

Heavy equipment operator. That’s my handle. Is how I would have answered back then. Now, older, much wiser, and a student of human nature, the writer in me opted to ask a follow up question instead of jumping to any conclusions. But before I had a chance he held his cell in front of my face. “Your Twitter handle.”

Oh, got it. He was referring to social media. Any molten material left in my brain coagulated back into solid gray matter.

“Mine is @launchpad,” he said. “Get your phone,” he pointed at my purse. “Type it in right quick. Follow me and then I’ll follow you. We can read each other’s profiles and bypass the superficial meet-and-greet chitchat and get to business.”

Hey you want to try it inverted? Moaned through the time space continuum. “Business?” I clarified.

“You’re a writer.” he said.

I nodded.

“I’m a web promoter,” he stood taller. “I scanned your Facebook page and visited your website.”

“You have?”

“Pilot, writer, kayaker, skier, blogger, and it seems you have a decent sense of humor…I know everything about you.”

And your name is…

“I think we’d be a good match. Here, read my Linked In profile, “like” my company Launch Pad, and message me if you’re interested,” his eyes narrowed and focused on the butterfly painting. “In my opinion, it looks more like an awakening.” His fingers glided over his cell screen.

A millisecond later, I heard his phone ping like submarine sonar.

He winked. “I just tweeted how cool it was to get to know you.”

EL Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Risk

Longing for the days when all I was asked was “how big is your jet?”

aka The Glamorous Wife

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