One thing that made Heather a little apprehensive about buying our new home was the fact that it is located near to the town she grew up in. While she loved the idea of being close to her parents and lifelong friends, she also realized “moving back home” meant having a lot of these conversations:
“Heather? Heather Buchanan?!?! Is that you?!?!?
“Oh, um, hi…”
“It’s me. Bert! From seventh grade Pre-Algebra. Wasn’t Mrs. O’Brien a pill?”
As opposed to Heather, I had no problem with the new house’s location. That’s because no one knows me in Heather’s old stomping grounds. There I am… a man of mystery! And I like it that way, because when you live in the same place a long time (as I did in Los Angeles for seventeen years) you accumulate a lengthy list of people you hope you don’t run into when you go out. And the list only grows the longer you live there!
I don’t mean to sound like a jerk. I have also accumulated a long list of terrific people who I love to run into. BUT… I’d be lying if I pretended I loved running into:
THE RANDOM DUDE FROM COLLEGE – This guy is the worst because there are so many of him. There’s the one who lived across the hall freshman year, the one who sat near me in Psych 101, the one who roomed with my friend sophomore year, and many more. You know what they all have in common? I don’t remember any of their names. This makes for awkward chit-chat when they run up to me saying, “Mike! Buddy! Long time no see!”
THE CRAZY O.J. SIMPSON LADY – When I first moved to Los Angeles the O.J. Simpson trial was on everyone’s minds, but none more than on that of the bandana wearing grandma who cornered me at Blockbuster for half an hour so she could explain why O.J. was innocent and the trial was a “white conspiracy.” And while I haven’t seen this lady in seventeen years, I still worry every time I go out that I might run into her somewhere and have to listen to her thoughts on Casey Anthony.
TURTLE GIRL – I once had a blind date who insisted I come up to her apartment upon picking her up so I could meet her… wait for it… turtle. She made me hold it for twenty minutes while she described how great turtles were as pets. Anyway, the date went poorly (shocker) and now whenever I run into her (she lives in my neighborhood) she always glares at me from over her turtle pendant. See ya, Turtle Girl!
THE GUY IN MY BUILDING WHO CALLS ME STEVE – This guy started calling me Steve ten years ago and I’ve never corrected him. Now I live in fear of him learning my real name and having to explain why I’ve let him think my name is Steve for so long.
THE SNOTTY 7-11 CLERK – Not once in fifteen plus years has this guy not had a sarcastic, superior, or condescending comment for me whenever I go into my corner 7-11. I’d stop going, but come on… it’s 7-11! Here are a few of his gems:
“Chili and cheese on that dog? Watch the waistline.”
“No one buys that candy. What’s wrong with a Snickers?”
“No, we do not sell stamps so don’t even ask.” (This in reference to my asking him if they sold stamps once sometime before 9/11 happened).
THE “SIMILAR MUSIC TASTE” DUDE – This goatee sporting dude loves the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Fiona Apple, and Aimee Mann. You know who else does? Me. I can’t tell you how many concerts I have run into this guy at, and he always comes over to talk to me about our crazy connection. Ugh.
THE EX-GIRLFRIEND – I had one long term relationship before Heather (2 years), and I have long worried about the awkward explosion that would ensue if I ran into her with Heather. The awkward possibilities are infinite, starting with how I would even introduce the ex.
“Heather, I’d like you to meet my ex-girlfriend.”
“Heather, this is an… old friend of mine.”
Heather, please meet… oh who are we kidding you totally already know who she is and looked her up on Facebook.”
Ugh. Thank Goodness that weirdness never happened!
Well, farewell to one and all! I will now enjoy my life free of awkward encounters! That is, at least, for a few months before the people in my new city get to know me.