Whew. I’m glad that’s over. Well, I’m not so sure it’s over. But that was a little too weird for me.
I had dinner last night with a former colleague I hadn’t seen in a while. Too long, really. When I first met him, I was an ignoramus with some ambition. I knew where I wanted to go, but I had no idea how to get there. He took me under his wing and showed me the road. And for a time, we traveled that road together.
I continued down the road after we parted ways, and I still haven’t arrived at that destination, but I’m not sure we ever do. No matter what we accomplish, it’s never enough. We never know enough, see enough, or have enough. The destination always moves. Not that that’s always a bad thing.
We reflected on that, and he shared some wisdom. I’m frustrated. He helped me sort some of that out. Not everyone wants to go along for the ride, it seems. So things change, and sometimes we’re disappointed.
Just as importantly, he brought his new girlfriend along. I was glad to meet her. She’s a nice girl, down to earth, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She can take a lot of good-natured ribbing, and she’s not afraid to dish it out either. She came across as being more than just pleasant to be around–she was fun to be around.
At one point in the conversation, he started talking about “his girlfriend” as if she wasn’t there, describing her, saying what he liked about her. I could tell part of her enjoyed hearing it, but part of her was embarrassed. I was impressed. I’ve done that in the past. The last girl I did that to was too full of herself to be embarrassed. (The embrace I got afterward was pretty cool. Too bad it was worth about as much as the advice that was dished out in these pages yesterday.)
I just smiled knowingly as he went on and on about her. He was doing good. “Stop it,” she said. “You’re embarrassing me.”
“You know her?” he asked.
Bzzt. Wrong answer, Jack.
She let him get by with it. The cool ones always do.
She left the table for a minute and he told me a few things. Things he didn’t want her to know, at least not yet. I’ve forgotten what they were, which is just as well. He mentioned some potential red flags that never rose. Good signs all. I gave him my observations, for what they were worth, based on living for three years with about 30 guys, most of whom had girlfriends, and from other friends’ relationships. He didn’t have anything to learn from my personal experience.
I looked over my shoulder a few times as I was talking. It would have been awkward if she’d returned in the middle of a sentence, potentially. I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I had one last thing to say, and I finished it as she was sitting back down at the table:
“…and you can see it in their choices of where they go to school, or where they start their careers,” I said.
She sat back down. She didn’t demand to know what we’d been talking about when we were gone. She didn’t ask what that was about. Nothing.
I was severely impressed.
We shifted gears in the conversation a couple of times. She has a brother who’s going to be starting at the University of Missouri, majoring in journalism, soon. I told her I’d answer any questions he had. I told her about a few of my misadventures in my four years there. I had more than a few. The head of my sequence still remembers me, to this day, and not because I was one of his most brilliant students (I got an A in his class, by the skin of my teeth). We tangled bitterly. If duels had been legal, I would have challenged him to one. I never backed down. I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me, no matter who he was. And he was somebody–ultimately, the decision whether I got into the program and could continue my major rested with him. He backed down. He won a battle, definitely. But I won the war.
He’s one of two professors who teach that class. When her brother asks which professor to take, I’ll be torn.
She asked if he could call me. I said certainly. Actually she asked me for my phone number.
“I see,” my friend said. “I take you out to dinner with one of my friends, and the next thing I know, you’re getting his phone number.”
She had trouble finding a pen. “And now you’re going to ask me for my pen so you can write down his phone number,” he said.
She found her pen. I told her my number. I look forward to talking about journalism with her brother.
I don’t know what the future holds for them, and two hours does not a final impression make, but I know most guys settle for a whole lot worse.