“Todd,” I say to my hunky dinner mate, “Do you know that lady at the bar? She has blonde hair and a tan sweater. Don’t-look-now.”
But of course, everyone looks immediately when asked not to look. Todd says he doesn’t recognize her, and we continue to dip fries and sip drinks. But now, she points our direction, getting her husband to look our way. Todd’s better at focusing on dinner, so I make sure to update him again.
“Now, she’s pointing, and her husband is looking at us,” I tell him.
Todd wisely responds, “They’ve probably been to one of our shows.”
About 15 minutes later, our dinner is done (did I mention how proud I am of the burger toppings I chose?), and I notice the lady from the bar is headed to the bathroom. No, I did not go corner her in the ladies’ room. But I did approach her husband at the bar. (Todd may never get used to my boldness, but he is a very patient partner.)
I go up to the guy at the bar, and say, “Hi! I was curious if your wife knows us. I noticed she kept looking our way.”
He smiles and gently informs me, “No, we aren’t from La Crosse. She just wants your table by the window. Our son is meeting us here soon.” Oh.
Hilarious! But I simply could not leave it there. Knowing his wife would be back soon, I take a chance and ask him, “Can we act like we know each other when your wife comes back?”
He agrees! We exchange names quickly, and I get back to our table. Todd catches the whole thing, of course, and feigns embarrassment with an added eye roll. Then immediately was in Prank Mode.
The wife returns, and like spies, we now know her name is Julie. We ask our server to save the table for that couple, and wrap up our bill.
As we stand to leave, I say, “Julie?” Then, Todd rushes over to the husband and shouts, “Randy! You old dawg!” Randy responds with a raucous, “Todd! Lisa!” And the guys embrace in the “man hug with back slaps” as if they shared a dorm room way back when.
Julie gives me a polite hug, the kind where you leave your hips out a bit. It’s hysterical how she’s smiling nicely, yet her eyes and brow are in a curious scrunch. Just then, their 6’2” adult son comes in with his girlfriend, and I say to him, “There you are!” (I hadn’t caught his name). I’m looking up at him, with my hands on his shoulders, and I say, “Look how tall you’ve gotten!” I notice how very much he looks like his mom with the scrunched brow-smile combo.
Todd gets a hug from the son, the son introduces his girlfriend, and then Todd swiftly gets the group over to the table by the window. I say that we have to run, and mention how great it was to see them again. Todd offers that we should get together soon, for good measure. Then, we head to our car, and burst into laughter out front on the sidewalk.
While pulling into traffic, and we’re hooting ‘til we’re coughing. Now, stopped at the red traffic light in front of the restaurant, I look toward the window and see Randy and Julie laugh-coughing, too. We all wave at each other with the biggest dumb smiles people can have. The son and girlfriend still look curious, but knew the parents were buying dinner, and all would be well.
Lesson: Just because you aren’t recognized for being a local comic, doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends you’ll never see again. Why not take a chance on a moment of fun?