"Do you like bubble baths?"
"Well if you ever wanna take someone home for a bubble bath, I like candles! And rose petals!"
It was strange being in America, the place where strangers talk to you on the street. In our two weeks we encountered so many people who were nice, helpful or just plain chatty for no good reason at all. At first we'd almost jump a foot in the air everytime someone spoke, or glared with great suspicion. What do you want? Why are you talking to me? What are you trying to sell? I don't have any money! Take him, he's older!
You don't seem to get as much random interaction in Britain. If you're out for a walk it's rare to even make eye contact with a stranger, let alone score a nod or smile. This used to baffle me, but as soon as my first Scottish winter came I noticed I'd become more insular, preferring to brood beneath my beanie. I didn't realise how much so until we were at the Grand Canyon and a tall man suddenly approached us. I gripped my camera extra tight and decided I was prepared to knee him in the goolies if necessary.
"Hello! Would you like me to take a photo of the happy couple together?"
"What? Ohh! Sure. Thanks very much!"
After Vegas we headed back to San Francisco for a week. We got the BART into town then Gareth had the fantastic idea of walking ten blocks uphill to our hotel. I was lucky enough to have wheeled luggage but he had an ancient suitcase that weighed a tonne – those kilts are heavy bastards. After a few blocks I could see his arms shaking and face turning beetroot. As we waited at an intersection I wondered whether or not three days of marriage was long enough for me to spew forth my first I Told You So, and did I really want to establish myself as a nagging bint so early in the game? Cars whizzed by in all directions and it dawned on us there were no pedestrian lights and we didn't know when to cross the street.
"Well!" I sniffed, "Isn't this just a DANDY honeymoon?"
Just as the veins began to bulge on Gareth's forearms, a woman whizzed past on rollerblades and sang out in bemused tones, "Pedestrians have right of way in California, guys! You can cross now!"
It was a bit of a culture shock to hear people speak to you out of the blue. All week strangers appeared to help when we looked lost, offered to take photos or just struck up conversations about the weather.
On our last day in San Francisco, after walking past the Bubble Bath Guy, a lady with a wee baby and a bottle of OJ stopped me outside the hotel, pointing at my shopping bags.
"Hey! That looks like an Old Navy bag. There's Old Navy here?"
"Oh yeah, it's just a few blocks that way."
"That is good news! Do you like Old Navy? What you got there?"
I showed her my bargain nightwear.
"Well, damn! I love Old Navy. I'm gonna go there right now. Thank YOU!"
What is in the water over there, you Americans? Maybe it was just the newlywed glow or all the excess glucose I'd consumed, but all that unexpected human interaction felt warmer than the California sunshine.
Gull With Fresh Droppings
One in a series of approximately 457 gull photos Gareth took at Fisherman's Wharf.