There was a guy who was working the local lecture circuit as a moderator with whom I got pretty friendly. I had been attending a number of his training seminars and after awhile we got to know each other on a first name basis. He was a charasmatic sort of guy. I believe had been a preacher at one time but was now using the skills that he learned at the pulpit for inspiring people to do good work in government.
I should note to those of you who don't know me personally...that I am not a Christian. My religious proclivity falls somewhere between 'I'm not sure' and 'I really try not to think about it'...both of which are unpopular positions here in the Bible Belt of the North.
Anyway, he always had these little icebreakers where attendees had to interact with other attendees. It was a bit of a pain in the ass, but in the end it was always effective. If the class muddled through whatever he had set up, the group would inevitably participate more and be more attentive.
So one class he opened by saying, " We are going to play a little game. You're going to get a partner. Then you are going to say something to your partner that you think you both have in common. If you both have that item in common then your partner is going to shake your hand and say ' nice to meet you'. I'll give you an example....Flick, can you come up here and help demostrate ?"
With that I hopped up to the front of the room to join him.
He continued, " OK, let's domonstrate.....I'm wearing a blue shirt !"
Since we were both wearing a blue shirt I extended my hand in an exaggerated way for effect and game him the old, " NICE TO MEET YOU !" with a toothy grin.
" Nice to meet you too !" said our speaker and then he turned to the crowd and said, " OK everyone pair up and give it a try. Flick...since your already up here, why don't you be my partner."
He and I moved to the side and grabbed a couple of chairs. He gestured that I should go first so I thought for a second and said, " HI ! I'm going to be stuck here for the next 2 1/2 hours !"
" Hahahha", our speaker chuckled, " I can only hope that you don't find me that boring....but NICE TO MEET YOU !" and he extended his hand with a hearty shake.
Now it was his turn, " I've accepted Jesus as my personal savior"
Yes, you read it right.
" Pardon me ?"
He tried again, this time with a little more enthusiasm, " I've accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior" and out went his hand with a big smile.
TH-TH-THAT !?!?!? THAT is what you're opening with ?"
I'm not sure of the exact meaning of the word incredulous, but if it includes 'totally fucking shocked' as part of it, then that's what I was.
The smile started to droop a bit, " ahhh, no good ?"
I winced in a bit of pain and shook my head like a rookie pitcher nervously shaking off the curve ball from a veteran catcher.
What followed was about the longest three seconds of dead air I've ever endured.
The smile was gone this time. His expression was that of a guy trying to solve a math problem...like something that involved two trains leaving two cities at different times. Then, suddenly he must have come to his answer. His eye lit up, shoved out his hand and stammered, " I...I...I'm wearing a blue shirt !"
I greatfully grabbed his hand which had gown just about as damp as mine
"Nice to meet you...", I offered almost appologetically, "...nice to meet you!"