From the Braver Institute
Long time readers may recall that a few years ago I had planned on meeting up with my old friend Jim. He was home from Chicago and visiting his mother who lives on the shores of Lake Superior at Shelter Bay. Coincidentally I was staying with my family at Shelter Bay at the same time. The lake was calm that day and I canoed across the bay to the side where his mother lived. I couldn’t remember which house was his so I called him on my cell phone. As it turned out he was in Marquette at that moment. I told him that I would be in Chicago in the fall and maybe we could meet up then.
We never did.
The last time I saw Jim was many years ago when he was back in town after college. Karaoke was something new at the time and he had heard that Marquette had a Karaoke bar. He was an aspiring performer and Karaoke sounded like a natural stepping stone to the limelight. I don’t remember a whole lot about the evening because we were drinking, but I do remember him on stage belting out Gene Vincent’s Be-Bop-ALula in an exaggerated voice while windmilling his arms and gyrating like some kind of acid-trip Elvis.
Okay, this is starting to sound like I am eulogizing the guy. This is not the case.
Last week I was asked if I would drive a friend to Chicago for a doctor’s appointment. The appointment was to last roughly three hours, which meant I would have a little time to kill.
I knew that I would be in town for such a short time that it was kind of pointless for me to look Jim up. Three hours is an eternity when you are just sitting in a waiting room, but it isn’t nearly enough time to drive across Chicago and visit a friend. Besides, it was a weekday and the appointment was right in the middle of the day when everyone would be at work.
Jim works for a really cool record store called Reckless Records, and out of curiosity I did look up the location of the place. I was stunned to discover that it was less than two miles from the doctor’s office. I could walk there in a half-hour or so.
This gave me what I thought was a great idea: I would drop in for a surprise visit. This would give me a chance to see an old friend, check out a cool record store, have a little look at Chicago and kill some time in a much more interesting fashion than sitting in a waiting room at a doctor’s office.
The appointment was at 11 a.m. That meant that I had until 1 p.m. or thereabouts to get to the record store and back.
The walk to the record store was largely uneventful. There really wasn’t much to see on the route. But right across the street from Reckless Records I was stopped by a friendly girl who asked me who my favorite superhero was. I would have thought that she was just another crazy person on the street if she wasn’t holding a clipboard. I thought maybe she was a college student conducting a survey for her superhero course (hey, there could be such a thing). I couldn’t think of a favorite so I just went with my childhood favorite which was Spider-Man. She high-fived me and said that Spider-Man was her favorite too. I didn’t believe her. She then asked my name and proceeded to tell me about the plight of some group of people somewhere in the world who I would love to help if I could afford to but all that kept going through my head is that I am standing right across the street from Reckless Records and Jim is probably looking out the window right now thinking “Hey! That looks like my old friend across the street being hounded by a street marketer,” and then the whole “surprise” part of my visit would be shot.
I quickly no-thank-youd my way out of the situation and walked into the record store. It was just as cool as I had imagined. It was like stepping back into time, seeing all of the record racks. If I wasn’t on foot and actually still owned a turntable, I would have bought some music.
I walked up to the counter and asked if Jim was working. He wasn’t. But you already knew that was how it would turn out, didn’t you?
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Braver Institute at www.