Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Please, Stay With Me Here. I Do Have a Point.

I was going to write about how my dad can make friends anywhere, and I think my brother was lucky enough to inherit this skill, a fact of which I am so jealous. The running joke in the family is that we can be anywhere in the world...go ahead, put your finger in a random spot on the map...and my dad will know someone there. Sixteen years ago, we were in an elevator in Rockefeller Center in NYC, all the way across the country for us, and someone asked, "Dave? Is that you?" It's ridiculous. There have been times at Disney World where he's said he'll wait for us while we ride the roller coaster, and when we come back to find him after the ride, he's met some person and they're chatting away like old pals. I've often told him that if he ever wanted to run for president, he could win entirely on a word-of-mouth campaign. My dad is just a good guy whom nobody doesn't like.

Anyway, then I started wondering about the origins of my personality. If I didn't get my dad's affable persona, whose personality did I get?

Then I remembered that until the age of 5 (the year of my parents' divorce), I was happy-go-lucky, to hear my family tell it. Then I became angry and sullen, went to counseling and started bullying this boy on the playground. George. If I ever tried the Flatliners thing and I was Keifer Sutherland's character, I would have been in big trouble.

Poor George. I still feel really bad about that. I don't really remember what I said to him, but I do remember cornering him and taunting him mercilessly. One day, his mother came to school for some class-related thing, and I saw him point me out to her. My face flushed. Karma caught up with me by junior high, though, no worries. I got mine in spades.

My train of thought ended, oddly enough, on an actual train. Freshman year of college. I commuted daily that year, from San Jose to San Mateo. One day on the train, I saw a guy with black hair and dark brown eyes sitting at the back. He was wearing a blue sweater with a white t-shirt underneath.

George. It was him. It had to be.

I sat there, staring at him like a stalker. I was alternately feeling immense guilt for the times I teased him, wanting to ask him if he was OK and feeling scared to say anything. I kept debating with myself about whether I should go up to him, ask if he was the George. And if he was, how would I apologize? "Hey, me and Timmy Geyer used to mess with you at recess! Sorry about that." What if he didn't remember? Would that be good (we didn't make too much of an impression...whew!) or bad (he was so traumatized, he blocked it out)?

For 30 minutes, I debated and wondered and thought the whole thing to death. And then the Palo Alto stop arrived, and it was his. He left, and I missed my chance to make amends.

Anyway, I'm sure he's fine. Most of us wind up fine. But even so, I'm still very sorry.