Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2017

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My wife, Jen, likes to tease me. At an Indy 500 party this year, she was regaling our friends with stories of strangers I've "collected" over the years. Maybe it has something to do with my social proclivities as a native New Orleanian. As much as we travel, and as much time as we spend in hotels, it seems only natural to me that random conversations should occur from time to time. Corny as it may sound, I like talking to people, and not just on the road. I make it a goal to be especially friendly to customer service reps on the phone, always calling them by name and asking how their day's going. And Jen's never surprised when she comes downstairs at home to find our living room or kitchen full of neighbors. One of my more memorable interactions was with a guy I met last fall in Palm Beach named Peter, who captivated us with a story of how he'd been hired to authenticate former President Barack Obama's birth certificate. He reminded me a bit of one of those people you meet at a gas station who weaves an elaborate tale about how he can't get home and needs money. Only this guy was way more successful and, I imagined, a lot richer. Legit? Who knows. Entertaining? Definitely. I've met dozens of "Peters" during the course of my travels, both personal and professional. On a recent trip, Jen and I were enjoying an al fresco lunch at the Peninsula Chicago when I struck up a conversation with an intriguing couple seated at the next table. Claudio, a makeup designer, took a liking to my sunglasses and offered to buy them. ey weren't expensive, so I just gave them to him, which led to a delightful and wide-ranging chat over wine, cappuccinos and macarons. We soon discovered Claudio is a pretty big deal. A congenial shared stroll to Barney's of New York revealed his name splashed across several storefront windows. at jaunt led to drinks at Gibson's Steakhouse followed by a casual pop into a party at the Lamborghini dealer, where Claudio and his wife, Alex, made the rounds among circles of some of the most beautiful guests we'd ever seen. Jen and I invited our new acquaintances to join us for a jovial Chinese dinner back at the Peninsula's Shanghai Terrace, after which Claudio insisted on one more drink, leading us down yet another rabbit hole to a speakeasy-ish Latin dance club called the Flamingo Rum Bar. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 3 a.m. Yet another story — and new friend — for my collection. You just never know who you might meet while traveling, or what serendipitous adventures a chance encounter at a bar or restaurant might lead to. Life's too short to pass up such entertaining opportunities. My advice? Strike up a conversation, and see where it takes you. Who knows. You might wind up stuck between floors in an elevator with an entire bridal party. We did. But that's a story for another time... Jeffrey Cohen jeff@slmag.net From the Editor-in-Chief 30 slmag.net

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