Quand j’étais en Europe…

Meeting people for the first time is a lesson in both chemistry and society.  The composition of the community is scientifically assured to engender limitless ingredients having a bearing upon the convention.

the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances;
the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people

The social aspect of a first meeting is perhaps less volatile though the protean character may nonetheless be far more acidic.

mid 16th century
(in the sense companionship, friendly association with others) from French société, from Latin societas, from socius companion.

Unlike the intractable elements of chemistry, the social features sanction a wide variety of almost theatrical charters such as polite society, high society, the elite, smart set, country set, the upper classes, the A-list, the beautiful people, la crème de la crème and the jet set.

It was in the result with a degree of trepidation (though more trembling emotion than apprehension) that I approached today’s communion with our new acquaintances. I no more than another am subject to the very diversities and peculiarities of which I now speak. This confession is made – at least for literary purposes – substantial because the union today arose at its native stages from the internet. Of course I jest.  For while it is true that the World Wide Web was indeed the mystical author of the underlying creation, it was in fact no less innocuous than a moot enquiry into the vulgar subject of dieting and weight loss. Our hostess, while investigating something like the Atkins Diet or other popular dieting gimmick, unwittingly ran across a reference to the subject in one of my many blogs which, to my eternal discredit, I shamelessly display to any and every without qualification or hindrance. Because Her Ladyship is from upstate New York (and therefore by deduction not entirely unfamiliar with the occasional detail across the border) she happened to be familar with another of my allusions, this time to the Shouldice Hospital, a private clinic devoted to hernia surgery in Thornhill, Ontario. As I reminded our hostess today amid a trumpet of guffaws, a former senior surgeon at the Shouldice Hospital was the father of a boarding school chum of mine; and, his daughter once remarked to me how her father kept a 20-pound bag of potatoes at hand in his office to remind prospective patients of the need for weight reduction before surgery.

Were it not for this serendipitous encounter through the machinations of technology I wager we would never have met our hostess and her husband (though it is with some reservation that I report our hostess once owned a retail shop on Hilton Head Island which unknowingly I had frequented on more than one occasion). If nothing else, this confirms the quip that there are only six families in the world, the rest is done with mirrors! Or, more culturally persuasive, we’re all related to one another.  Whatever the posture, the consequence of these trifling accidents of association produced a highly agreeable rendezvous this afternoon.