After a business meeting at the bank, CW and I stopped at Diamonds, a Northeast hangout near to the arts district. While waiting for our lattes and breakfast sandwiches to appear (and shit, I am now realizing that I have no cash as a result of this visit), a guy appeared. We'd seen the guy earlier. He'd left his bag and his coffee on a cafe table near the counter, and CW and I had rudely plopped our own junk on the table next to his in his absence. He excused himself and began collecting his articles. CW, always social, made a polite apology and friendly remark. The guy turned instead to me and asked, "Did you go to Brown?" I said Huh? And he repeated the question. I realized he meant Brown Institute here in town, and denied having attended (though I thought about it at one point, another story.) "Did you go to MCAD?" he asked. OK, now I've apparently been ID'd. I acknowledged the affirmative.
"Yeah," says the guy, "I thought I recognized you. You're Jennifer, right?" Uh-oh, I'm thinking. Did I date this guy at some point? If you've known me more than ten years, you know it's genuinely possible for me to have completely forgotten about one of the guys I actually dated. Thing is, he's not my type, which makes me wonder if I turned him down. (Also awkward.) The guy introduces himself, I introduce CW, and we all stand around for a few minutes. The name does NOT ring a bell, I'm afraid. Still awkward...when does it end...but apparently we knew each other in the illustration department in art school, waaaayyyy back in the mid-Nineties. "What are you doing now?" He wants to know. We give each other the rundown. Neither of us makes art for money. "I'm not real good at it," says the guy. He's in school to be an electrician. Underemployed, not an uncommon problem. He has settled in Northeast. He wants to know where I work. I'm careful to keep pulling CW into this conversation, keep it light. I explain my church work, and the guy's eyes light up. CW explains that she works there too, "But I'm not a Jesus Freak or anything," she says. "We're not, like, all glassy-eyed about it." Evidently this is one of those days when she feels the need to add disclaimers. Maybe she thinks the Guy is cute.
Apparently, however, the Guy is not disinterested in Jesus Freaks. He starts talking about a new church he's been attending, up in Fridley -- the Substance Church. CW and I exchange a look. We've heard of this church, which has blanketed Northeast with direct-mail postcards and glossy promo stuff. Guy says they have an awesome, "spiritual" atmosphere -- he makes that distinction between being himself "spiritual" and being "religious." He says their worship service is very cool, very (I'm going to forget the way he phrased it) engaging and moving. He makes reference to the music etc, and I get the feeling this is a black church, though I don't know that. "You want glassy-eyed," says the Guy, "Those people are definitely glassy-eyed. But it's cool."
The sandwiches arrive. Guy sort of takes this as a cue, doesn't ask me for my info or anything, says "Hey, you should come up there some time. It's nice to bump into you." He splits. I'm still trying to envision even one exchange or occasion from the past that would explain the Guy, I feel guilty for totally blanking him. As we drive off, I can just vaguely picture what his artwork might have looked like (this isn't unusual, I can erase a face from memory with ease but often an artist's name will summon up a visual reference for their work. This happened again recently in an unrelated conversation with someone in Superior WI, who as it turns out knows a number of local artists with whom I'm acquainted.)
Substance Church. Hmmm.