It finally happened. One of my many fears in life. I was at the Salt Lake City Airport and I saw someone I knew.
I was sitting at the terminal with my daughter. The flight before ours was getting ready to board when a group of four men stood up and I think:
“Hey! I know him. I think I knew him in England. I should just yell Coats. But is it Coats? Sure, it is. Wait. Coats had glasses. He doesn’t have glasses.”
(Luckily I didn’t think about how I was wearing contacts and therefore others might be as well.)
“But I know I know him.”
So I stared at him as he walked toward the gate. I turned in my seat and nonchalantly looked. (Unless staring without blinking isn’t nonchalant.)
Then it HIT! Greg! From my sophomore year of college. My roommate and I hung out with him and two of his roommates for a whole summer. We met because I’d had a bad day.
The guy I was “in looooove with” ignored me; I didn’t get the grade I wanted in a class; my hair didn’t work; my pants were tight.
(I don’t actually remember but these were the things that upset me when I was 19.)
I got home in the evening, put on my bathing suit and decided I was going to jump in the pool and sit on the bottom for about 39 seconds. I stood on the diving board. I got prepared to jump. I looked down. It looked cold. I wasn’t the Olympic swimmer I am back then. Cold water always stopped me. I stood on that diving board for about fifteen minutes. Maybe more.
Then I heard: “Just do it.”
I looked up. Some guy was sitting on a chair by the pool reading. I’d wanted a private moment. I deserved a little privacy while standing on the community pool’s diving board in the dead center of a four building apartment complex. Next to the parking lot.
“You’ve been there for fifteen minutes. Jump.”
“It looks cold.”
“You do it.”
“I’m not in a bathing suit.”
“If you jump now, you can go with me and my friends to the all you can eat buffet for $5.99 at Brick Oven.”
“Brick Oven has an all you can eat?”
“Yes. But you can’t come unless you jump.”
He stood at the edge of the pool and waited.
“Pizza and pasta?” I asked.
“And bread sticks.”
I jumped, got out, changed, told my roommate we were going to dinner and started a wonderful friendship built on cheap food. It lasted a whole summer and was one of the more fulfilling friendships I had in college.
I didn’t say hi. He was third in line to board when I realized who he was. Calling someone back as they enter an airport gate is usually reserved for romantic couples calling out to each other to stay. Not for calling: “Hey do you remember me? We shared Nachos Grande.”