“Your bet…” prompted the transgender girl slowly turning into a boy, looking to the left.
A shake of the head and a quick reply from the big, straight guy in that next seat. “I need another beer, first.”
“I’ll get it.” This from the rail-thin gay kid on the other side of the table as he stood and stepped over to the ice chest.
“Keep betting like that and you’ll need more than beer,” laughed the blonde, tougher-than-she-looks ex-cop.
In the background, a tall and aging server – head shaven to hide receding hair – is still throwing his all into hitting-on the pretty girl from Romania. She laughs and shakes her head; she still has a boyfriend back home.
College is a long time ago for me…err, both stints are a long time ago. It has been, over the years, hard to remember the semi-forced intimacy of that period. That period when boundaries are expanded, when preconceptions are shattered, and when new ways of looking at life are learned. That time when you well and truly grow up.
Six months ago, most of my friends looked like me. Most thought like me. Some even acted like me.
Now I play games with a transgender girl-turning-into-a-boy. Now I have real, meaningful discussions with a rail-thin gay kid. Now I feel avuncularly protective of a tougher-than-she-looks ex-cop. Now I laugh (with all the empathy and understanding of the fellow-aging) at a trying-oh-so-hard server*.
Six months ago, not a single one of us would have spoken three words to the others. Hell, none of us would’ve so much as entered each other’s orbit, let alone become friends. I’m a straight, white guy who is addicted to hockey and writes in brewery taprooms…what the hell do I have in common with any of these people?
Quite a lot, as it turns out.
*Note: there are far more characters – and friends! – up here. The cast above, however, illustrates better than anything the variety…and the chasms crossed.