Thursday, August 18, 2005


The Internet is a wondrous thing, at times. People you haven’t heard from in years can use it to track you down, if they are of a mind to do so.

A couple of days ago, I received a mysterious e-mail. It was from an unfamiliar ID, but the subject line (“Re: Nothing”) didn’t have that spammy feel to it, so I opened it up. And it was addressed to me. My real name, not my bloghandle or e-mail ID.

The note started off with a series of questions:

“Ever launch a home-built rocket into the air only to have it fall on a neighbor’s roof and explode? Polevault in your back yard? Caddy at Bethpage [State Park, home of the 2002 U.S. Open] in extreme heat?”

...and so on.

Well, the answer to all of these questions was “yes,” but what was especially intriguing was that whoever sent the note actually knew my caddy number.

Which meant that there was only one person on the planet who could have sent that note. It could only be my old friend Walter, he of the Infamous Vermont Applejack Escapade. Some of my Esteemed Readers may also remember seeing his name in this post as well.

Walter and I go way back. I first encountered him in my first grade classroom, back in (gasp!) 1958. Many years later, in high school, we were thick as thieves, but as our college careers progressed, we saw each other less and less frequently. The last time I saw him, it was at Magic Mountain in Vermont, where I had taken She Who Must Be Obeyed for a day of skiing. Or, more properly, to drink hot chocolate in the ski lodge while I froze my ass off on the windswept, icy mountain. It was December 1976, SWMBO’s first trip to the Northeast. And while we were there, by sheer coincidence, we ran into Walt. At the time, I hadn’t laid eyes on him in three years. We visited with each other for a while, then went our separate ways.

And then, almost twenty-nine years later, this Mysterious E-Mail shows up.

A few exchanges of messages served to nail down the Mystery E-Mailer’s identity. It was indeed my old partner-in-crime, and the next evening, we had a lengthy telephone conversation.

How strange to know who was on the other end of that telephone line, yet to be so unfamiliar with the voice. The voice my brain wanted to hear was one from three decades ago, but the one I heard sounded’s dad! Who, I was pleased to hear, is still alive and well, living in the same house on Long Island’s south shore in my old home town.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge in those 28-plus years. Each of us has married – amazingly, only one time for each of us! – and each of us has two offspring (his are boys, mine girls) as well as two cats. Our families have lived in several places over the years, but our seven houses in four states trumps Walter’s three houses in two states.

As it happens, my old friend travels on business from time to time, and those travels take him to Atlanta, where he generally stays within a rifleshot of my office. Who knew? So the prospects for a reunion are excellent.

Walt and I had a lot of adventures, back in the day. Yes, there was the backyard pole-vaulting (Walt was a track star of sorts). There were the rockets. There was the Yellow Beetle. There was the Jean Shepherd Press Conference. There was the Caretaker’s Cottage with the freezing bedrooms, the even colder bathrooms, and the Ski-Cycle of Death. There were the Baked Evenings. There was Schlepping Golf Clubs for Little Remuneration. There was Making Fun of Bob Kohlus’s Jeep. In such a wise did we help each other navigate the Treacherous Shoals of High-School Life.

Reconnection. Recalling those old stories, filtered as they are through 35 years or so of my imperfect memory, brought a smile to my face. Walter, I’m glad you took the trouble to track me down.

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