Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Jim or gym?

This morning I was awakened at the bloodcurdling time of 7:30 a.m. by a frantic call from my 15-year-old daughter. She had forgotten her homework on her desk at home, it was due today, and it was worth “FIFTY POINTS!” I didn’t know the relative value of that — 50 points out of 100? Out of one million? And points toward what? — and, in fact, I knew relatively little about anything at that hour, including who this was who was calling me so urgently (I announced myself as “Lee,” when my actual name in this circumstance should have been “Dad.”). All I could make out in my head-swimming confusion was that this sounded serious, so I agreed to get those papers and run them over to her high school.

By the time I was there, I was fully awake, or at least more fully awake, or perhaps more honestly less completely non-awake, so I stopped at the local Fresh & Easy to pick up something to eat for breakfast. I was checking out various types of yogurt and of fruit when a dark-haired guy in a tank top whirled around and said to me, “Heeyyyy!!!”

I looked at him blankly and said back, with less enthusiasm, “Hey.”

“How are you?” he said. “You must live around here.”

“Not really. I’m just here because I had to run my daughter’s homework to her high school.” Even while saying this, I wondered why I was sharing this information so freely. Important rule: When in doubt, do not share information freely. Yes, I have watched too many spy dramas.

I eyed him further. He looked familiar — but frankly, who doesn’t? Everybody looks a little like someone else, unless you’re dealing with an outlier like Richard the Third or Peter Dinklage. Was he a former student from USC? Could have been. Support staff for a client? Long-ago member of my writing workshop? A guy from the gym where I work out? Looked like he could be one of those guys from the gym — but it was hard to tell because he wasn’t naked and sweating. (Thankfully.) “I can’t place you,” I finally said. This was a line I had heard on “Mad Men” the other night and liked.

“Jim,” he said.

“Oh. Jim,” I repeated. I still had no idea who he was. “Good seeing you.”

I went back to my shopping. A few minutes later, as he left, he said, “See you later.”

“Okay!” I called back, still puzzling over this. Then I wondered, was he saying his name is “Jim,” or was he saying that he knew me from the gym? Maybe this line from “Mad Men” wasn’t as useful as I thought it would be when I’d heard it — maybe it wasn’t specific enough.

Or, maybe, this guy didn’t know me at all, and was pranking me in a way my girlfriend and I used to do eons ago on the boardwalk of Wildwood, NJ when we would accost unsuspecting middle-aged women and address them as “Mrs. McGillicuddy.”

Unless I see this guy again — at the gym, perhaps — I won’t know if he’s Jim or “gym.” Or if I was a McGillicuddy.

One Response to “Jim or gym?”

  1. Dan Says:

    Perhaps he’s the brother of a guy you shot in Abilene or something.

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