Have you ever seen someone you thought you knew, but weren’t quite sure that it was really that person?
I don’t mean the people who look like your mother, or your brother, and you can eliminate the possibility with a quick second glance. Nor am I talking about the folks who resemble your roommate from college who you know to be a thousand miles away, or a famous movie star who obviously wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out in the dives and crapholes you frequent.
No, I’m talking about that local casual acquaintance — a friend of a friend, or an old colleague from another department, or your one of your ex-significant other’s old chums.
(No, not the hot one; you’d remember that one. I mean the plain one, with the sorta crooked nose, or the one whose eyes are a little too close together. You know, that one.)
Anyway, what the hell do you do in that situation? It happened to me today — I think I saw the husband of a woman my wife used to work with. He’s a nice guy and all, and I even remembered his name — very impressive, given my propensity for forgetting such things pretty much one hundred percent of the time.
(Seriously, I’m surprised I can recall my wife’s name sometimes. It’s like a big fat mental block I have about what I’m supposed to call people. So in my world, everybody’s a ‘buddy’ or a ‘dude’ or ‘big fella’.
Which works okay for the guys, I suppose. Especially when most of them don’t really give a damn whether I know their names or not… as long as I’m buying the beer, of course. But I don’t have as many substitute monikers for the ladies, which sometimes gets me in trouble. The best I can usually do is come up with something neutral, like ‘Hey there, you!‘ or ‘What’s up, Skippy?‘
Sure, I know ‘Skippy’ isn’t the most flattering cover to use when I can’t remember a girl’s name. Still, it’s not the worst I could do. I once greeted a long-lost aunt with ‘Hey… um, Aunt… BigFella… uh, dude.’
Yeah, I don’t get invited to the family Christmas party any more. Big surprise, huh?)
The name wasn’t the problem today, though. I simply didn’t know what to do. I saw the guy just as he was turning away from me to sit on a park bench. I was maybe thirty feet away from him, walking back to my office after lunch. And since it was noontime, there were various and sundry — oh, very sundry — people wandering around the area. I had no fricking idea what to do.
So I just stood there, like a goober. I thought about calling out the guy’s name. But then it occurred to me that it might not be who I thought it was. And I decided it might be a bit uncomfortable to be standing there calling, ‘Joe! Yo, Joe!‘ when there was no Joe to be had.
(And I certainly didn’t want to be doing it if there was a Joe hanging around, just waiting to ‘be had’. But that’s different. Alls I wanted was to say hello.)
Anyway, I ended up shuffling back and forth, turning toward the office, then back toward the bench, then the office, then the bench. I thought about walking around to the front of the bench and getting a good look, but again — what if I were wrong? I was hardly in a condition to be subtle about looking this guy up and down, and that would be bad no matter what. If it wasn’t my friend, I’d look like some random pervert freakjob. And if it was him, then I’d look like a specific pervert freakjob. And the story of my long, searching gaze into his eyes would eventually make its way back to my wife. So I decided against it.
In the end, I decided against doing much of anything, and finally went back to the office. Now I’ll never know whether I was right, or whether this was just some stranger enjoying his afternoon on the park bench. Or picking up chicks, or casing the restaurant across the way, or whatever the hell he was there to do. And I guess that’s okay. It’s not like it was my long-lost brother, or some old school chum I’d been keeping an eye out for. Really, I should just let it go. I know this.
But I still feel like I could have handled it a bit more gracefully. I could have caught up on some news, or gotten a lunch invitation. Hell, maybe I could have even borrowed money from the guy — who knows? But I missed out. I just didn’t know how to slyly see who it was without making an ass of myself. So, I hung my head and slunk back to work. As usual.
Maybe there was a better way. Or maybe I should have just yelled for the guy, or gone over and stared at him, and the blips on people’s gaydar be damned. I don’t know; I took the easy way out, and hightailed it out of there. This time, it probably didn’t cost me much. A couple of minutes of chit-chat; maybe a snippet of news about a mutual friend. But I want to be ready for the next time, when it might be the generous rich guy from an old job, or that hot girl my wife used to hang out with. It’d be a shame to miss out on an opportunity like that!
On the other hand, maybe it’s best to just avoid these situations. I’d probably end up fucking them up somehow, and then those people would never speak to me again. I’d accidentally tell the rich dude he’s looking fatter, or I’d forget the girl’s name and call her ‘Little Miss BigFella’. Not at all good.
Yeah, I think I made the right choice. Even going to work is better than the trouble I typically get myself into. Really, I shouldn’t talk to people at all, ever. It’s just safer that way.Permalink | 2 Comments