Today LLC and I were in the park where we last year encountered this howler but this time the only faux pas on the scene was me.
The children’s play area was nearly empty (hurrah) when we arrived, with only one other mother pushing her two children on the swings. Of course LLC also wanted to ride the swings. This was no issue as this playground has several swings, so over we went and off went LLC, swinging happily away.
And here’s where I made my cardinal error. I attempted to make eye contact and friendly small talk with this other mother on the playground. We were standing directly next to each other. LLC was craning her neck directly towards her two children watching them swing. I didn’t want to exchange life stories, but in the rare relative quiet of the playground it just felt strange to me not to share some basic pleasantries or at least a sympathetic glance with this other woman. Grudgingly she offered me a few words in return but I can take a hint and clammed up pretty quickly.
This is not the first time I’ve had something like this happen to me in England. Is there a small talk line here in the UK that I really shouldn’t cross, although the ‘American’ in me feels compelled to do so? Was she affronted that we also chose the swings near her brood, when faced with an empty rest of playground? Of course this mother’s reticent stance was surely only exacerbated when she heard my accent and probably feared a verbal assault of “Oh my Gods.”
Is it that bad to be friendly?