In this blog entry about my experiences in the Chicagoland and National Spelling Bee, I typed the following sentence: "...while actually telling a girl that sat next to me during the contest how calm and cool I was, the gum I was chewing fell out of my mouth and onto the floor. Real smooth, Ex-Lax."
It's a small world after all...
Last Friday at about 6:45P, I was walking back into the building where I work with my dinner in tow. I had my headphones on and blasting as usual, so I kinda noticed a woman signing in at the front desk making a quick hand gesture, but I ignored it because I assumed she was talking to someone else. I then blew past three security guards trying to get my attention until I caught the last one out of the corner of my eye frantically waving his hands at me. He then pointed me back towards the woman at the front desk. I walked back and looked at the girl, and as she began to talk, my brain recognized her as someone from my childhood, but I couldn't immediately place her. She was tall, thin, black with light features, and had short wavy hair. "This is gonna sound strange," she started, "but did you participate in the Chicago Spelling Bee many years ago?" I cracked a large smile and looked in the air, shocked that a fellow contestant picked me out of thin air on the street twenty years later. But I actually didn't realize exactly who she was until we talked for a minute. There were only a couple of black girls in the Chicagoland Spelling Bee with me that year, and I didn't talk to any of them...except the one sitting next to me who confided in me that she was nervous. The one who I tried to calm down by telling her how cool and calm I was. The one who watched my Big Red gum go flying out of my mouth as I attempted to tell her how cool and calm I was. Yes, she was that girl. How crazy is that??
We shot the bull for a couple of minutes, as she recalled that she didn't know how to spell some word that I did, and she remembered the word that I got right to win it all. She asked what I was doing in that building at that moment, and I told her that I worked there for Chase. I asked what she was doing in the building, and she told me that she was an attorney for some firm there, and at that moment I started to go upstairs to my breakroom, because there's no sense continuing to talk to a girl who grew up to be an attorney while I'm counting checks for $10 an hour. "You can tell your friends about the weird girl with the long memory," she laughed as I walked away. I believe her name was Dana. I spent the rest of the evening not believing the coincidence that found me in 2009 walking past the girl who was so cute that I spit gum trying to have a conversation with her in 1990. In retrospect, perhaps I should be proud that this time, I didn't accidentally spray her in the face.