March 15, 2013

Fact is Better: Wise Words from a Train Conductor

An alcohol promotion is not an ideal opportunity to have a profound conversation. It's difficult to segue into anything substantial when you're dressed provocatively, trying to peddle beer and swag to people. But every now and then a moment so pure and so beautifully out of place happens that you're caught of guard. And you can either shake it off and keep schlepping your product to other tables, or you can let the world come to a brief pause as you absorb it and let it wash over you.

Regardless of the situation, I suggest the latter of the two.

After flirting recklessly with three men in their fifties and sixties, one of them and I began talking about how I became a beer model, what my parents thought of it, and what I studied at university.

(Side note: the man I spoke to was not a train conductor [much to the pity of my inner British four-year-old boy], but worked on train tracks. Since I couldn't wrap my brain around that, I stuck to calling him "The Train Conductor." Which worked out, since he couldn't remember my name and decided to call me "Blossom" for the apple blossom tattoo on my arm. Though he didn't know it, it was an appropriate nickname given that I was on the cusp of transitioning into a new era of my life.)

The Train Conductor: "You know, I have a son your age. Went to college for eight years to be a scientist... and what's he doing for work right now? He's building trails at a ski resort, because he didn't want to pay for a season pass this year. And you know what? That's okay."

Me: "You sound like my mom. As long as we were happy, than she was happy."

The Train Conductor: "Let me tell you something: the best thing that ever happened to me was having kids."

Me: "Really?"

The Train Conductor: "Yes. Money, y'know, it comes and goes. And stuff is just stuff; it breaks over time. But the love of a family? That never goes away. When you have kids, not a day goes by that you don't smile. Having kids makes you smile."

Me: "Why?"

The Train Conductor: "Well, because every day you realize how madly in love you are with them and that makes you smile. And very day they love you madly back and that makes you smile. And as they are discovering the world, you get to rediscover it with them. And that makes you smile, too."

Me: "What about when you're angry at them?"

The Train Conductor: "Especially when you're angry at them do you smile. And then, God willing, your kids have kids. And when you have grandchildren, not a day goes by that you don't laugh. Kids make you smile. Grand kids make you laugh. My granddaughter's got me wrapped right around her little finger, because she pouts. That big bottom lip comes out quivering, and her eyes get really wide... and it makes me laugh, because y'know what? It's exactly what her mom - my daughter - used to do when she was four."

Me: "This is probably one of the most amazing conversations I've ever had at an alcohol promotion."

The Train Conductor: "Yeah? Well, let me tell you this: I don't want to tell you how to live your life, my young friend, but you should have kids. And not one - have two. Two is good. Your life will be so much richer than you could ever imagine."

True story.

And further proof that fact is better than fiction.