If you really knew me, you’d know… [the ultimate conversation starter]

Over dinner with the ever-inquisitive Kate Courageous t’other night, she asked, “So, if I really knew you, what would I know?”

Well hello, mighty icebreaker.

I’ve become obsessed with this question — it’s the ultimate dinner party conversation-starter, a beautiful prompt for story-telling & memoir-writing, and an incredible framework for your ‘about’ page or bio.

I’m game. Let’s play!

If you really knew me, you’d know…

: That I won 2nd place at the Topanga Days apple pie bake-off — at age eleven.
: That I had my first kiss on my 16th birthday. (It lasted till dawn.)
: That if I ever get a tattoo, it will be a lightning bolt. Or two.

: That I dropped out of college because of one life-altering moment with a spinach croissant.
: That I went back to college because of a gut-twisting break-up (the kind that makes you want to flee to another country, 6,511 miles away.)

: That I conduct long, elaborate conversations with my mentor, Oscar Wilde. And that he’s never steered me astray.

: That by 22, I was getting paid to write journalism pieces — and that I once interviewed a Guantanamo Bay detainee, for an article celebrating Amnesty International’s work.
: That I cried during (and after) writing that piece.

: That by 25, I was a published poet, and had penned a one-act play that got accepted into an NYC theater festival.
: That I didn’t direct my play at the festival, ’cause I couldn’t afford the flight.
: That at that moment, I vowed never to let the words “I can’t afford it” stand between me & my desires.

: That if I could play any character on Broadway, it’d be Inspector Javert. (Anti-heroes are hot.)

: That I compulsively take photos of the sky.

: That over the years, I’ve contributed to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Gems Girls, Greenpeace, and the Women’s Earth Alliance. That quiet philanthropy is baked into my bones. But that I also believe it’s possible to give — & give greatly — without spending a dime.

: That for several years of my life, I dressed exclusively in men’s clothing & buzzed my hair down to velvety fuzz.

: That I believe every outfit & every hairstyle is a performance — and that you get to perform, explore, express & become whoever you damn well please, for as long as you like.

: That I dodged an unwanted kiss in Ireland, woke up at dawn to hunt crawfish in Sweden, painted a mural & laid bricks in Spain, reinvented myself in New Zealand, received my first marriage proposal in Australia, waltzed with my father at a grand ball in Russia, and once — just once — flew home on a private jet, with two of the most generous philanthropists in the world. (They had warm croissants on the plane. It was phenomenal.)

: That I’ve never met a warm croissant I didn’t like. And that apparently, croissants mark pivotal moments in my life.

: That just recently, I’ve realized that all I want to do is help people remember who they are, reveal who they’re becoming … and be understood.

The end. For now.

Your turn: “If you really knew me, you’d know…”