At some point I see Eric. He is standing with some of his undergraduates. I contemplate joining him, but then see someone coming through the door from the outside. I stand off to the side and, when that new person walks past me -- it’s very crowded, so he can’t see me well -- I burst forward and lock him in an aggressively friendly bear hug, like the sort you see fraternity brothers giving each other.
This new person is Greg, wearing a bright red chamois shirt and blue jeans. “Hey, buddy,” he’s says, a litttle surprised by the force of my greeting. I give him a hard time about not calling me. He makes the usual excuses.
When I get to the place where they are taking tickets, I see a sign that says “Donations Welcome” and magnanimously declare, “Give me five back” as I hand over a ten-dollar bill. The two men taking tickets just stand there. I figure I must have misread something and pull out a twenty, embarrassed, and then add a one for good measure so that my request for a five back might make sense.
As I walk into the room, the natural light is even stronger than before. The room has high ceilings. I vaguely intuit a stage at one end. There are big, vertical windows. It seems like a high school auditorium.
Over at the opposite end of the room, against the wall, stand the person who will be reading and the usual crowd of five or six individuals who inevitably circulate around that person.
It’s Michael Bérubé.
I contemplate going over to say hello to him now, but conclude that the timing is wrong. Instead, I scan the room for a possible seat. The people in the room are spread out over the chairs. I can sit anywhere I want, more or less. I decide to sit next to Greg, who is sitting by himself in the middle of a row.
We exchange a few words. He makes a reference to something to do with my home life that he could only know by reading my blog.
After depositing something on the seat to his left, I exit the room to use the facilities. There are two restrooms opposite the entrance. I jog over to the one more directly across and leap up in the air as if I’m doing the high jump the old-fashioned way, like you see in film from the 1930s.
Apparently, the inset restroom alcove is raised above the level of the hall by a considerable amount and I am pleased to land cleanly. When I look around, though, I see that the tile outside the restroom door is pink and worry that I’ve picked the wrong restroom.
I step down and walk over to the adjoining restroom to see if the tile is a different color. It isn’t. And neither alcove has a sign indicating the gender for which it’s intended.
I conclude that my first choice was correct and make another run up towards it from the hall, worried that my leap will end in a fall. I make it onto the ledge again, but land less cleanly.