22 May 2009

Sheldon Meets Nick's Sister

Sometimes you just never know who you'll meet.

No, it wasn't a celebrity. Or someone I'd been trying to avoid. Well, not really, anyway.

He is someone I hadn't seen in about ten years. In those days, we used to ride with a few other guys. We all lived within a two-neighborhood radius in Brooklyn, so it was easy for us to do impromptu rides together.

Sheldon was dating a very attractive and smart woman named Danielle. They're married now. Ray, another one of our riding buddies, hasn't married, but is still with, the woman he started seeing around the same time as Shedon got involved with Danielle--and I with Tammy.

He's forty now, and well, if you don't know my age, I'm not going to tell you. ;-) But neither of us could believe that the other had reached the chronological milestones at which we now find ourselves. To tell you the truth, he seemed more surprised at my age than at the changes I've undergone in the intervening years.

What surprised him most, he told me, was finding out that I am indeed the one he knew as a guy named Nick. "When I saw you, I thought there was something familiar about you. I wasn't sure. Then, when you talked, I thought, 'Maybe she's Nick's sister."

"Except that I don't have a sister." And neither did my brothers--or at least, none that they knew of, until six years ago.

"Well, here you are. You're look great."

"Ooh! That, coming from the man who's married to Danielle!"

"Well, you should see yourself. You're smiling, you're glowing. And that outfit is great for you."

Only Bruce, with whom I had lunch before I bumped into Sheldon, knows my secret: I wore it yesterday, too. I got lots of compliments on it, and I feel pretty and feminine--even ladylike (OK. Now I'll lose whatever feminist friends I may have still had!) in it. It's a sleeveless dress that falls below my knee. Over my shoulders and chest I wore a bolero-type jacket, in the same linen material and the same color as the dress.

That color is one I love, and people say is "perfect" for me: a deep lavender that's almost periwinkle. I just felt so good about wearing it yesterday that I wanted to wear it again today.

Realize that the last time Sheldon saw me, I was probably in one of my bicycling team outfits, and I was probably grungy. Or I may have been wearing what lots of American males wear when they don't know what else to wear: Dockers and a plaid button-down shirt. Or, if the weather was cooler, I might have been wearing corduroy slacks or jacket. Also: My hair was short, and I wore a beard.

What I didn't tell him was something he probably knew that I was thinking: He's cute. It's not so much about his looks, although he is nice-looking guy. It has more to do with his personality, and with this: He seems to have an air of innocence that belies mischieviousness, or an air of mischieviousness that is the surface of, or is protecting, his innocence. Sometimes I used to feel as if he and I had gotten away with something he would never, ever do.

Now I'm realizing that in all of our conversation, I didn't find myself wishing for those days. He says that he and Ray are training to race again next year; I wish them well but have no desire to do anything like that, even if I were in better shape. Even the relative ease of those first two years I spent with Tammy--also, if I remember correctly, the last two years I rode with Sheldon and Ray and the other guys from Brooklyn--is not something I want to revisit. All I really did was to forestall the breakdown and changes I needed.

The images of those rides and nights out and other events--with each other, and sometimes our significant others--felt, as they do now, rather like pictures of things my brother did: the sorts of things mothers and daughters collect in albums or frame and stand on dressers or desks.

Maybe Sheldon understood even more than I realized when he said he thought I might be Nick's sister.

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