Have you ever noticed that there are rare occasions when fate drops into your lap an opportunity too fun to pass up?
After a routine biannual physical examination at the local VA hospital, I stepped onto an elevator and pushed down. On the next floor, a middle-aged orderly entered with a stainless steel cart full of various medical accouterments.
I noticed his name tag. Paul Williams. Doing a double-take, I realized that the guy was in fact one of my old friends – a neighbor from childhood! He was one of the gaggle of elementary-school-aged kids (including me) who ran wild throughout the semi-rural neighborhood on bicycles and horses, having a great time just being kids.
I would have never recognized him without the name badge, and obviously, he didn’t recognize me. Unable to help myself – trickster that I can tend to be – I seized the moment.
“Wow!” I said, looking him right in the eye, “I am picking up a serious vibration here!” He looked back as if to say, “Huh?” Plowing forward, I went on… “Does the name Dita, or Leslie mean anything to you?”
His eyes got big. “They are my sisters!” He said incredulously.
“How about the name Kay?” I prompted.
“That’s my mom!”
By this time the elevator doors opened and we trundled out with the cart. He grabbed me by the arm. “How would you know things like that?” he asked quizzically.
“I am psychic,” I lied. “I am just picking up a serious vibe from you, and that is what I am perceiving.”
“Do you see anything else?” He asked, dumbfounded. I closed my eyes theatrically.
“Well, I see a small blue house on a narrow road, with a white board fence. Nearby is a small horse pasture with three horses – one huge black one, a bay mare, and a brown-and-white pinto Shetland pony – all eating grass in the pasture. Beyond that...a light green house with white shutters, through some fir trees not far away.”
“Unbelievable!” he sputtered, “That perfectly describes where I grew up! How could you have possibly known those things?” he asked in a total sense of wonderment.
Unable to manage a straight face, I fought to keep my composure as I answered.
“How can I see all that? Well, because I grew up in that house with the white shutters, and we rode those horses together all the time, Paul. I am Tom, your old neighbor from Halcyon Road – remember me?”
“Oh my God!” he laughed out loud. “You really had me going!”
The reunion that followed over coffee was great fun, and the lesson entailed is one I have often thought about since... Seize the moment. Most of us have at one time or another found something rather amusing that we tell ourselves we are going to remember and use as a snappy response at just the right moment. How many times have I realized that the moment came and went, and I blew my opportunity to use one of my great one‑liners?
I have always had several in my quiver that I have kept at the ready in case the moment arose. Despite all the missed opportunities, once at a cocktail party in San Francisco I got a rare opportunity. While discussing the subject of contact lenses versus glasses, a friend asked me: “Do you have good eyes?” I couldn’t let this one go by.
“Oh yes,” I replied casually, “I can see the sun, and it’s ninety-three million miles away!”
Later, as a friend and I were making our goodbyes, everybody just shook their heads in that funny groaning sort of way, saying “93,000,000 miles indeed!” Months later, as I ran into some of the same guys here and there, they always made some remark about my exemplary eyesight!