He's a good 6'1". About forty-five. Trim mustache. Khaki shirt and shorts. Lean, strong body. Tanned. Even his legs are tanned. All Northwesterners of Northern European descent look like white grubs except briefly, like for a couple of weeks in August. He looks like he's spent the last six months excavating ruins in Egypt and reading Homer in the original on his lunch breaks.
And he noticed. Damn!
I may even have blushed.
Now, he could have been amused. He could even have laughed out loud. I'm, to put it nicely, not young.
Instead, he smiled graciously. Wooooooo.
When I got to the landing, I did not turn to look back.
Some things are not meant to be.
But it was nice that he was nice about it.
A day later, I'm with Beloved (which has a lot to do with what is or is not meant to be) at the local department store and she goes to buy a throw rug and I head for the outdoor sports counter. There are two guys there, an older manager and a youngish salesman, against a background of racked pump action twelve guage shotguns and stacked boxes of hollow point 180 grain .30-06 ammunition, and the like.
"Yes, ma'am, and what can we do for you today?" says young Hugh. He looks like he's been out of high school about four years, didn't go to college, has two kids by now and trips over toys in the yard about every third day. Sunday school regular, too. I'd be wary of him but old Fred is right there, just like Hugh but thirty years farther on, and more steeped in retail wisdom. I'll chance it.
"I'm ready for my fishing license, if you please, without tags or hunting."
"Certainly," says Hugh, and I give him my driver's license. He swipes it through the machine, it thinks for about fifteen seconds, and prints out a fishing license, which he turns around and places on the counter in front of me to sign.
But I see it has a problem.
"Umm, I'm so sorry, I can't use this one; it has my old name on it."
Whaaaa? Hugh's mouth falls open. He takes a look at the license, and freezes. Fred comes over, ready to do damage control.
Beloved arrives at about this time, and, feeling tension in the air, checks me out from a discreet distance. I seem calm enough, so she turns the cart around and heads for sewing supplies.
Old Fred unsticks Hugh from whatever is panicking him and puts him to work confirming with the Fish and Game office, eighty miles to our north. Their computer has scanned my driver's license number and printed out a record from their own database. Clearly, it doesn't automatically update when the Department of Motor Vehicles updates theirs.
I had half expected this.
After all, how many men change their names? Some places, a name change gets sticky, and Fish and Game can be among the worst. Their system does other things besides give you the right to chase fish around in thirty thousand dollar boats -- for example, it's used to track deadbeat dads (and maybe impound the thirty thousand dollar boat).
Fish and Game looks at DMV, corrects my record, Hugh hangs up and reprints, and there's my new fishing license, ready to sign. It still says Male, but, then, so does my DL. Only, now there's one less problem if a trooper asks me if I've got the right to wave a fly rod over the bow of my kayak.
"Thank you, sir," I say to Hugh. It would be a bit rude to curtsy, but it's in my voice. His eyes narrow a bit. They've been lying to him about me in Sunday School, I can tell.
Fred leans across the counter, a bit in front of Hugh. "You are welcome," he says, in his best retailer's manner. "Thank you for your patience."
On the way out, Beloved checks up on me.
"How are you doing, dear?" she asks, with a small Public Display of Affection.
"Really well, actually. How about if I take the rest of the day off and go paddle around on the lake?"
-- risa b