I sat down at the bar tonight with 20 minutes to spare before I was to meet a new girlfriend and an old one for a movie. Before my butt even touched the chair, the man one seat away from me on my right held up a small bouquet of wildflowers and asked if I’d, “like a centerpiece for your meal”.
“Of course”, I said
And so it began.
Tom (also known in Navajo as “Nose that Runs”) works for the FBI, investigating big time missions on an international scale. He wore a mauve colored jacket, a paisley tie, beige shirt, horn-rimmed glasses, a Mickey Mouse watch on his left wrist, which he claims, “keeps things light”, and calls the upper mid-west, his “cultural home”.
The bouquet Tom had placed in front of me wasn’t your average bouquet. He had made it a couple hours prior to our meeting, while escaping the rain that he apparently summoned with his rain dance last night. The vase was made of an “up-cycled” nipper (those small bottles of liquor available on planes and at your nearest liquor store) – we both guessed it to be an old Smirinoff Rasberry vessel. Wrapped around it was a strip of nice earthy brown paper, secured with an iron wire.
The flowers were a collection of free-range, organic (his words)_ wild flowers from various neighborhood yards, hell-strips, flower pots and gardens. From Yarrow to a red something-or-other that resembled Thing 1 and Thing 2, to the T.
This little centerpiece is beautiful, and so carefully constructed – it’s obvious that some love – or obsession went into it. Tom claims that he’s made hundreds of these over the summer – handing them out to random folk like me., which he kindly emphasized to ensure that I didn’t get too inflated. I’m not that special, I just sat down next to him.
We, well he proceeded to talk while shoveled an Italian avocado salad into my mouth – peppering him with questions when they arose.
“Where is your cultural home”, he asked me.
“Outer space” I replied.
He thought for a moment, then nodded. Respect.
He told me of his loves and losses, and how it’s better to be heart-broken in New Mexico where at least it’s only cold half of the year, rather than Wisconson where the chill of the winter months, lingers long after the snow melts. He recalled his valedictorian speech, which was 2:46 long and humbled every last asian female in the program. Of how he lost his favorite dog and how that made him feel sad.
He has two passports like me (US/Canada – I have Norway/US), and his blood traces back to old St. Petersburg, Russia.
He also thinks he and I look alike.
Now, he lives in Denver, in the hip part known as so-ho.
He’s self-proclaimed as socially awkward, has no cell phone and spends much of his time (when he’s not out processing information for the US GOV) at the Walnut Room.
20 Minutes flew by and I felt our parting came too quickly. Though he was nice and nookered, I could have entertained some time with him for sure. I’ll see him again and I wonder if he’ll remember..
People are so strange.