What’s that, Mikey? A piece of playground mulch? Nice. Let’s put that in our bucket, okay?

Oh, and who’s this? Hey there. Mikey, it looks like he has a piece of mulch for your bucket too. Can you let him drop it in? Very nice. Oh, and now you both want to keep collecting pieces of mulch, meaning I’ll get to keep standing next to this other adult, who I assume is your new friend’s dad, for the next few minutes and make awkward small talk with him instead of finishing my Counting Crows podcast? Terrific.

So, uh, hi. Yeah, I’m Mikey’s dad. I mean, I have a first name, but that doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you need to know right now. I guess we don’t really have to talk at all while our toddlers collect mulch together, but we are going to be physically adjacent to each other for a little while, right? So we might as well break up staring at our kids to make sure they don’t eat the mulch with the occasional comment about how important it is to mostly stare at them to make sure they don’t eat the mulch. That would be fun, or at least polite.

So—careful, Mikey—are—not in your mouth, Mikey—you—share, Mikey—from—Mikey, share—here?

Hoo, okay, so that was exhausting. And to be totally honest, I’m not that curious about whether you’re from here. I just didn’t know what else to ask, since I have no idea if we have anything in common. I mean, sure, we’re both new dads, but apart from having recently gone through that same life-changing experience that fundamentally altered our worldviews and priorities, what would we talk about in between protective glances at our kids? Like, I root for the Mets, and I can see by your shirt that you’re a Phillies fan, and those teams don’t even play each other as often following this year’s scheduling changes, you know?

Yeah, I actually like the scheduling changes too. I like pretty much all the new rules baseball implemented this season. But I already text about that plenty with my college friend, who I haven’t seen since he moved to Norway in 2015, so talking about it more would just feel redundant.

Look, I’m not trying to be rude or anything. I’m sure you’re a great guy or at least, like, a fine guy—you probably aren’t currently running a Ponzi scheme or anything. It’s just that our kids are only going to be doing this mulch thing for seven minutes, tops, before they decide it’s boring or start hitting each other or something. Then we’re going to hurriedly split up and be too focused on making sure they don’t accidentally strangle themselves with one of the jump ropes to talk to each other anymore. It’s not exactly a prime opportunity to cement a friendship.

Although, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that’s basically how my mom met people right after I was born. There was one woman in particular who she just started talking to because they were both on walks with babies, and they ended up keeping in touch and becoming extremely close. We hung out with their whole family throughout my childhood, and they are still good friends today, more than thirty years later.

Man, life before smartphones really does sound awful, doesn’t it? Anyway, it looks like they’re finished collecting mulch, so I think we’re going to head home. I’ve got to get these pictures of Mikey up on Instagram before peak engagement hours end.