At lunch in the city I saw someone across the room who was a pretty good friend of mine in college. I was trapped on the wrong side of a large table, so getting up and saying hello would have been a huge distraction: drawing a lot of attention to me and isolating my kid (who was sitting next to me). I had nearly summoned the energy to do it anyway, when she was joined by a male friend that I did not recognize, and I gave up. While I ate, she glanced over at me at least once, but either she did not see me or she did not want to see me. It is also possible that she saw me but did not remember me, even though my kid looks like a 14-year-old version of his father, who she also knew.
It is not a wholly new situation; we have all been in it before. You wait for the chatty neighbor to get in his car and drive away so you won’t have to say hello. You ignore the fact that Leon Redbone is struggling to be re-booked at a USAirways counter because you know that celebrities deserve to suffer the humiliations of airline travel undisturbed. You pretend you don’t see your grandpa in Steak 'n Shake because you go there to smoke and it’s your super-secret hideout.
Meanwhile, my husband, sometimes known as the Bacon Provider, got an email at work that day. Now he is a bit of a Medium Cheese in the world, having been on the creation end of a number of gadgety electrical things like the Xbox and tablets, and recently enjoyed a bit of extra media attention owing to his quitting work.
Well, the Medium Cheese got one of those creepy do-you-remember-me-? emails on his work account. Apparently, a woman who went to elementary school with him one year remembered his name and wondered, something like 35 years later, whatever happened to that guy? The Medium Cheese’s family moved frequently when he was a kid, and his quiet, studious nature had left an impression. “I'm sure you don't remember me, but I've never forgotten you…. I often wondered how you turned out. Imagine my surprise at when I Googled you. I'm so relieved you didn't turn into a serial killer.”
Apparently there just aren’t that many serial killers around anymore. When they are revealed, there is the usual set of interviews with the neighbors, who always say the vicious murderer was “kind of quiet.” Who doesn’t fit this description? David Lee Roth?
The Medium Cheese is mostly unperturbed by the creepy email, and I think it bothers me more. This is a guy who will not kill spiders and who once stopped his Mercedes on the 520 bridge to rescue a baby duck. But then again, they say Hitler was an animal lover.