Sunday, April 19, 2009

Atlanta, GA

I was at a B'nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO) Convention enjoying the typical Jewish summer camp Shabbos dinner this past Friday night at Camp Barney Medintz outside of Atlanta when my old friend Philip Shmerling became one of my personal heroes. We were reminiscing over childhood memories (we were neighbors growing up in Memphis) when Philip, who was at Camp Barney in his capacity as a youth advisor for Athens AZA of Nashville, noticed one of his high school boys talking to two girls in the buffet line. The boy was clearly interested in one of the girls, and giving her all of his attention. Eventually the other girl pulled her friend away and they went to sit and eat their traditional camp Shabbos meal of nearly edible chicken, potatoes, and challah. At that moment, Philip jumped into action. He walked over to the neophyte and taught him one of the more valuable lessons a young man can receive in life: You have to pay attention to the friend. If you are flirting with a girl who is standing with a friend, and you make no eye contact or effort to engage the friend, you are dooming yourself. One of two things will happen - either the friend will pull girl #1 away out of boredom, or girl #1 will leave your company so as not to make her friend feel like a 3rd wheel. Either way you've lost. But pay attention to the friend, and the world is your oyster. Speaking of buffet line encounters, I experienced a first this weekend in the annals of interesting conversation starters. Saturday afternoon at lunch, I was helping myself to the make-your-own cold cut sandwich buffet when a very nice young lady whom I'd never met approached me and said 'Hi, I think your dad is my insurance agent.' Like a good neighbor, David Ross is there. Of course, no good BBYO convention can end without a dance. I stopped by long enough to notice that the girl from my lunch line conversation was dancing with a nice looking boy from Nashville...seems Philip Shmerling's advice actually worked. Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, swish your bushy tail.

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