After being sick last week and barely eating or working out at the gym, I was ready to "hit it" yesterday. It was "go time." When I got to the gym, though, and loaded up the bar for my first set, the weight nearly buried me. As I said, I had not eaten, but I also had not taken my supplements. The combo, I guess, had an effect.
Looking around the gym, I saw a very pretty young woman, and beyond her, in the mirror, I saw me.
"Jesus, man. . . ."
I didn't look so hot. I didn't look any more.
When my workout was finished, I climbed into the car and headed for a gas station near the Whole Foods. I was out of gas and food. First the gas, I thought. I'm clever that way.
At the pump, I could hear a couple fellows talking on the other side of the island. I looked over and saw two Black men sitting in their car. The one in the driver's seat looked at me and said something. I was unprepared, and all I got from it was "old."
"What?" I exclaimed. "Did you say I was old?"
The man got out of his car. He had a full beard that was mostly gray and longish gray curly hair that was under a cap. He was short and thick and had big eyes.
"You know you're old," he said. He sounded vaguely like the Black guy on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
"What the fuck?"
He turned and said something to the fellow in the passenger's seat. Then he turned to me and did a little Hulk move with his pecs and said, "You're still in good shape. You're doing alright. I'm old, too, but I'm still in good shape. I used to be a professional soccer player."
I grinned. "How are your knees?"
"You know how the fuck my knees are," he said. "But I can still get fired up," he said.
"Yea? You just get the crazy eyes?" I made mine at him, humorously. At the factory, I was semi-famous for my "crazy eyes."
The Black man laughed. "That's right. You got it," he said.
Then he said, "I'm older than you. I'm going to be sixty coming up."
"How old are you?" he asked.
Since we were talking about what we were going to be, I told him, His eyes popped. He turned to his companion.
"Did you hear that? This motherfucker is. . . man. . . you in good shape."
"Bubba," I said, "your granddaughter could kick my ass."
He got a kick out of that. Now he was fist bumping me with every pronouncement.
"Where you from? You from around here?"
"I grew up here, mostly."
"Where are your parents from? What's their background?"
"My father's family was from Germany. My mother's family were Dutch and Irish."
"I knew it. I could see it."
I laughed and held my arm out next to his. "I can pass for anything," I said. "I could be Jewish, Mexican, Moroccan. . . ."
"That's right. I can see it in you. You've got blood. You and me got blood,"
"Mostly, though, I'm just poor hillbilly trash. You know what I mean? I grew up like some of my Black friends. Same thing. . . same food, same vocabulary. . . . "
"That's right, that's right my brother."
He was still fist bumping me.
"Man. . . I can't believe. . . I look older than you. You look like a surfer, man."
"Ha. Yea, that's why I color my hair."
"You be gettin' all the girls," he laughed.
"Hey. . . I'll take one now."
Then he started talking about people who don't understand. I couldn't tell if he was talking about White racists or Black ones, but I could tell he was wanting a fellowship, so I stepped up and said, "Come here," and for some reason, I gave him a big hug.
He held me for a second, then said, "That's what I wanted. That's all I wanted."
I patted him on the back and disengaged. I smiled at him and said, "I'll see you around," and put the nozzle back on the hook and climbed into my car. "That was kind of strange, "I thought, and then I laughed. As I pulled out, my new friend was waving and so I beeped the horn. I felt like Jimmy Stewart in one of those fantastical 1940s movies where there are angels and visitations.
But that's my life. Those are the sort of strange interactions I have that keep me to the left side of the line all the time. I'm not really a very social fellow and I am not really much in love with people in general. But, you know, a person is a different thing.