Marielle Argueza is a staff writer and calendar editor for the Weekly. She covers education, immigration and culture. Additionally, she covers the areas of Marina and South County. She occasionally writes about food and runs the internship program.

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I don’t know about you, but in the moments when strangers have approached me during the pandemic, I’ve always been a little surprised—in a good way. Health restrictions forced us away from public spaces and small talk that happens in them. I never really thought about small talk—the courteous hellos, asking what my dog’s name is. I never really nailed it down to an art form like some people can, and I call myself an introvert. 

So it was surprising to me when I realized I missed small talk. But the other day I ran into my editor in person during a midday coffee break. A stranger approached us mid-conversation to ask about the bike I was riding and quickly our conversation also came to include his divorce, and his life past that, plus his opinion (favorable) on Italian bike frames.

After a year-plus apart, we’ve thought a lot about being separate from those we love, but it’s also strangers. The Italian bike fan had a good sense of humor but, as small talk goes, of course I never learned his name.

In the past, I didn’t always realize small talk was there. As California begins opening up, there’s a lot I’m looking forward to—maybe even small talk. This week in HotPicks we’ve got some other things you might want to look forward to—including fancy cocktails out and live theater.

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