To my thirteen remaining readers: You may have noticed a dearth of posts for the past, oh, two weeks or so. I don’t know what happened. I had every intention of squeezing out a few blog posts while on vacation but as soon as my butt hit that ergonomically bad seat on what turned out to be an awful flight to Montana, my brain switched off, my typing fingers shriveled, my head voice whispered blog? what blog? and I couldn’t get going again until just now. I apologize for the absence. But let me be clear: This is not to imply that you missed me one iota since we both know you only peruse this site between hits here and here. I don’t mind. Really. I’m honored to make your web history at all.
And now down to business. My book signing at Fact & Fiction in downtown Missoula, MT was a big success. I stuttered only intermittedly, I sold at least fifteen books and I had the pleasure of meeting some great new people and chatting with old friends from high school. It’s funny — twenty years goes by and most of my friends from Hellgate High look the same. This is a compliment, not a snide insinuation that anyone wandered into the bookstore holding a lunch tray, going, “Can someone pop my zits for old time’s sake?” I think it has something to do with Missoula’s robust fitness culture. Everyone in that town seems to swim, hike, bike, climb and run themselves into a taut and limber smoothness. It’s quite impressive and makes me wonder why I ever wanted to leave the Big Sky state.
On the day of the signing, Jake and I met my father and brother for a beer at one of Missoula’s longtime watering holes, Flippers. Flippers, as the name might suggest, used to be thought of as an old man waster’s bar back in the day before hipsters latched onto the irony of the name and started going there as a joke until such pretension fell away and it became just another bar.
We drank our beer and wandered outside into the sunshine. There, sitting on a bench right outside Flippers’ front door was an old classmate of mine, a guy I hadn’t seen for many, many years. A toddler — his son, presumably — squirmed in his lap. My classmate wasn’t wearing a shirt.
“Hey, Dave,” he said casually to my brother. “Hey, Jessie.”
The ease with which he uttered my name was almost startling, like it had been on the tip of his tongue, a remnant from that morning, not after a gap of many, many, years. I wondered why he wasn’t wearing a shirt
“Hey, Rob,” I said after after his name eventually pushed through my memory. We looked at each other, knowing, friendly and bemused by the unexpected reunion.
“Well, see ya,” we each said and I wandered off with my family.
And that was it. I hadn’t seen the guy in years — we even occasionally used to hang out together — and all we could come up with was, ‘Well, see ya?” It was pitiful. Though I suspect the deflated reunion had something to do with location. I wondered which was worse: That I was caught coming out of a place called Flippers in broad daylight or that Rob had been sitting in front of it without a shirt.