Sunday, March 22, 2015

That Spark

You wouldn’t think that a Wal-Mart at 2:30 in the morning would be the place that gives you some of the most divine inspiration about the meaning of life, but every once in a while, crazy stuff happens.

For full effect, download “Hey” by The Pixies and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

A while back it was a Thursday afternoon in October and I was in Anaheim, California, sitting in a living room that hasn’t been touched since the Chia Pet was a best-selling toy. To my right was a ruthless old woman flirting with Alzheimer's, having a hard time trying to understand how a remote control does its job. To my left, her 89-year old, 100-pound, sopping wet husband sat in his La-Z-Boy and mouthed the instructions back to her, shaking his head as this odd couple pondered in the back of their minds how they had stuck with each other for almost three quarters of a century.

“You dating anyone, boy?” The old man said. And the answer is yes, when you have been born before the stock market actually crashed, and your parents crossed the plains in a handcart, you are still going to care about the romantic lives of your posterity. That kids, is a cold hard fact.

“Not really Uncle Lavar.” I said back.

The old geezer nodded his head to me and looked over at his totes adorbs geriatric molding of a wife who was still trying to understand the dimensions of a small piece of black plastic in her hands.

“Have I ever told you about when I met your Aunt Afton?”

For the record kids, I have heard this story almost a dozen times over the course of my now, ‘gasp’, 30-year existence, but due to the fact that I had time to kill on a Thursday afternoon, and statistically speaking this might be the last time I would actually hear this story from his own mouth thanks to old age and a bad liver, I thought I would entertain the old man once again and hear his own Ted Mosby version of how he met the mother of his children.

“I remember standing in the middle of the ballroom at Utah State my freshman year, and I turned around and looked in the doorway and saw your Aunt Afton standing next to the girl I was going steady with. And as she walked in, I knew right then that she was the girl I was going to marry.” He said.

“You just knew?”

“I just knew.”

“But how did you know?” I asked him.

“There was a spark about her, boy. Something inside me just went off when I saw her face in that doorway. I took her home that night, and the rest was history.”

Flashback to the fall of 2001, where my high school football coach, Brian Berrong said the same thing to me during a weightlifting class my senior year. And yes, I know a story about twitterpated romance while you’re bench pressing does not seem like a normal combination, but hey, Berrong was a hell of a coach and taught me more lessons about life than just a bunch of X’s and O’s on a chalkboard.

“We were sitting at a stake dance and I saw this beautiful girl walk into the gymnasium.” He said. “Right at that moment I turned to my buddy standing next to me, pointed at her and said, ‘That’s the girl I’m going to marry.’”

“You knew? Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

“But how? That’s crazy.”

“I don’t know how to explain it. But sometimes you just know.”

The similarities between these two conversations are a bit eerie, I will admit. A, because there is a 13-year gap between their existence, and B, because of the stark contrast in the characters that gave them; one being a very simple, nearly 90-year old Navy vet who is on his last dying leg, the other from a very brilliant offensive coordinator who walked me through my own spiritual awakening. How these two men share the same viewpoint about relationships is undeniably alarming.

But as the clock ticks past 3 am, and I’m walking through an empty Wal-Mart that’s as deathly silent as a funeral home, holding an armful of groceries so I can cook breakfast for a pretty girl with a rusty voice in a few hours, I can’t help but wonder if maybe these two wise old men are on to something.

What do you think?


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