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11:28 a.m. - October 21, 2005
Oh, The People You See
Recently, I was in a liquor store here in dear old Crawfordsville, buying a couple of Oil Cans of Fosters when all of a sudden I spotted someone in the store who I recognized from my previous stint in this town.

When I was in college, I thought I wanted to be a math teacher and a basketball coach, (that didn’t pan out (I’ll explain sometime down the road)) so to get my feet wet as a hoops coach I helped out some local high school girl’s teams to see what coaching was all about. My junior year, I was the book keeper and PA announcer for the girl’s team at Crawfordsville while picking up some coaching pointers as well.

I announced both the JV and the varsity, and the JV had this player who had the perfect last name for PA announcers. It was poly-syllabic and had the perfect vowels to draw out the last name for about 52 minutes. It was a riot! That JV team loved me for my hammy PA announcing (well, they also may have liked the fact I was a college junior and they were 16…).

She was also pretty darn good looking as well.

This player called me at the radio station a couple of times when I was working, and there were some interesting, yet polite conversations then, but I never pursued anything because:

B. I was going to start teaching in a couple of years, and she’d still be in high school.
C. The word JAIL is in JAILBAIT. JAIL was not an option.
D. I was determined not to date someone from town, since I was from town myself.
E. JAIL, you fool. JAIL!

In other words, no way, no how was I going to tear off somethin’ somethin’ with her.

After that season, I helped out another local high school, ditched teaching and started to work here in the real world. I bumped into her from time to time because, well, this IS a small town. Then I moved away and basically forgot about her.

Well, there she was, in the liquor store, buying a six pack of Busch Light and a pack of Basic Lights (true signs of something, I’m sure). She was married, at least I think so, because she was wearing one of those diamonds that look like it would gouge out your brain if she ever hit you with it (the setting was raised up and the rock wasn’t small and it looked pointy.) She gave me this look of “hey, I recognize you but your wearing sunglasses and I’m too cool to make a fool of myself – so I’ll nod politely and pay for my Busch Light and I’m kind of embarrassed to buy that brand but it’s for my husband and he’s such a cheapskate, OK?”

It was yet another random sighting of someone from my past.

As I expounded here once in a while you have those random sightings of people who knew you then. Of course, since it’s been 13 years, these people have changed a bit. But you still know them by sight.

Then there are the people that you want to run into, but haven’t yet, just for curiosity’s sake.

In this one I mentioned a girl who I went to high school with that was actually named Velvet.

She was in my first period class my senior year. From what I recall of her, she was nice, but definitely was a partier and a bit of a stoner. She and her friend would always smoke outside before class (yes, in 1984, in BFE land, they set up a designated area for our high school smokers. I don’t think that’s a current policy!) and then they’d run in right at the tardy bell. Once in a while they were especially giggly during class – so I wonder what they were REALLY smoking sometimes.

Anyway, Velvet and I talked once in a while and part of me wished I had the guts to ask her out. Seriously. She was totally outside my circle, and really was kind of a ‘bad girl’ (but I knew she had a heart of gold). However, I was a totally geeked out kid with a retainer, some acne (and dry lips from the acutane I was taking – I had to put something called Bag Balm on them) and drove a Dodge Omni.

The rock-and-roll Omni, I called it.

I remember chatting with her in said Omni with Moose at the local fast food hangout, and then realizing that I had NO chance with her, NONE, because I was in an Omni. Not the car to be seen in if you want to impress the ‘bad girl’ with your hipster doofusness.

Plus it would have been quite a scandalous pairing, and I had my share of a scandal already my senior year.

Last time I saw her, she won the local “Hot Body” contest at a now-defunct club in town.

When I moved back, for some reason I used my super-secret research powers (only used for the forces of good and righteousness, mind you) and found she was still in town.

Part of me wants to see how she is, after 20+ years. And part of me is scared to see that. Ah, perhaps one day, Velvet and I will meet again, and she’ll look at me like, “Who the hell are you??” And that’s probably for the best.

Then there’s the people you MAY not want to see again. You find them in the local paper’s police blotter. Yes, it’s a must read here in BFE. Daily, they list all of the police and fire runs, and all of the bookings to the local jail. Mostly mundane stuff, but sometimes hilarity ensues.

Another classmate of mine made her appearance in that listing. She was a girl who I always liked, another girl who had a bit of a ‘wild’ streak in her but was intelligent and smart. And totally out of my league. Totally. Though she and I would talk a lot and I’d make her laugh on occasion by being a silly geek boy.

I knew that she went to some college, and then married a friend of a friend who played softball with people I knew. This guy was a real stand-up guy so I was happy for her.

Much to my surprise, a few weeks ago, I saw her in the blotter for possession with intent to distribute, maintaining a common nuisance (always a great turn of phrase), and child endangerment.

I talked to our friend, the assistant county DA, and she was divorced and renting this flea bag house, and while her kid was sleeping upstairs she was selling some crack to others.

This kind of surprised me that it was the same person I remember, and that it wasn’t meth, it was crack. Kickin’ the drugs old school.

I was also informed that I did NOT want to see the mug shot. I’ll take that advice in a heartbeat.

We had our 20th reunion last year, and it was a good turnout. I saw almost everyone I wanted to see – and then wondered about the people who didn’t show up. How are they dealing with life and all?

And you wonder what these random folks will think of you, 20 years down the road, when they meet up with you. Many at my reunion were at first wondering why I didn’t have a career in sports, but then said that I was “exactly what they thought I would be, but less hyper.”

I’ll take that as a compliment!


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