Scuzzy Penny Loafers

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” 
                                                            -Rick Blaine, Casablanca 

OK, she was actually there first. So technically speaking, I walked into hers. And it wasn’t a gin joint so much as it was a restaurant.

I’m slated to meet a friend and colleague in Topeka at 12:30 p.m. before a joint 1:30 p.m. appointment down the street. He’s coming from Wichita, me from Manhattan. I get there about 12:20 and as the hostess is showing me to my table, I notice a colleague of my wife’s sitting with a group.

“Hi Katie,” I wave with a smile.

Then I notice another. “Hey Susan.” More smiles.

And a third. “Hi Greg.” More waves.

They’re all looking at me kind of strange, as though my button-down collar is unbuttoned or something.

I takes me a few seconds before I realize whuddup and recognize another of their number. It’s my wife, her back to me, at the same table. I’m standing right next to where she’s seated.

If ever a moment called for some witty repartee, this was it. (BTW, do you ever see the word, “repartee” unless it’s preceded by the word, “witty?”)

“Hey, it’s my wife,” I say to the assembled group. “Imagine meeting you here!”

(Sorry, it was the best I could do on the fly – in the moment. I’ll do better next time.)

It says something, though I’m not altogether certain exactly what, that completely unbeknownst to each other, my wife and I wind up:

a. In the same city, 56.9 miles away from Manhattan.

b. In the same restaurant.

c. On the same day.

d. At the exact same time.

After the pleasantries are exchanged and the poor excuse for witty repartee (see?) offered, Jackie says to me, “You’re prolly gonna have a salad, right?”

(Lately we’ve been tryna help each other modulate... or at least temper... the caloric intake.) 


We used to have a general sense of each other’s comings and goings through shared calendars, but Google keeps changing the rules and I can’t keep up. Or maybe I'm just prioritizing what to care about.

We could also talk to each other on the phone, text, read each other’s minds or I could pull off to the side of the Interstate, rustle up some wood, pound a couplachunks o' flint together (Flint Hills,) start a fire and communicate via smoke signals. But not today. My penny loafers mighta gotten all scuffed up. And I prefer to leave a good impression.

“Dude, what happened to your shoes?”

“Well, Google calendar went south...”

A lot of husbands and wives engage in verbal exchanges in the morning about their pending days. We normally do this when we walk the dogs at 6 a.m., but not today, since I didn’t get up until 6:15 a.m. and made a unilateral, executive, husband decision to let sleeping wives sleep until 7 a.m. Then it was hustle, bustle, haveagreatday, loveyababe, seeyatonight and out the door.

When you think about the work we do and the circles in which we run, when you factor in our respective statewide venues, it’s really surprising this kinda thing doesn’t happen more often. I am all the time running into friends in coffee shops and restaurants in Wichita, Topeka, Johnson County, Lawrence, Salina, et al.

Today, my charming bride. In Topeka.

And I had a cup of soup (165 calories, dear.)