Thursday, December 13, 2007

Convergence: John Holiday

For those of you new to the blog, who may need an explanation of what I call "convergence," go here.

Only my closest friends (and a few new acquaintances on the way to becoming real friends) know that from late August until Thanksgiving I spent a little time looking for someone I'd completely lost track of. Those same friends also know that, like several other instances of deflating memories, I'd have been better off to leave that one undisturbed--and how.

But those are other stories. This story is about John Holiday. "Doc." Go figure.

I dine during happy hour at least once a week, sometimes several evenings a week, at Plate World Cuisine, about a mile from the house. Bar none, the best food on the north end of Colorado Springs. On an evening about six weeks ago, I stopped in there after a short errand I'd run on the way home from work. That errand was the first effort I'd made in weeks to discover what had become of that old acquaintance. The "search" was a good two and a half months old at that time, and I was, frankly, running out of ideas on how to find this person. So, I stop in at Plate, and Michael, the General Manager, escorts me to a seat at the bar and introduces me to a nice lady named Judy. Judy and I, both pretty naturally gregarious, are getting to know one another when in walks another guy Judy knows. She waves him over and he introduces himself to me as John Holiday, "But friends call me 'Doc.'"

"No kidding. Well, you're not going to believe this, but a lot of my friends call me 'Doc' too." And thinking that the coincidence might stretch credulity just a little, I fished out one of my skydiving cards, complete with callsign, and passed it to him. He returned the favor.

Now keep in mind that I had just come from the first real effort at tracking someone down that I'd made in a couple of weeks, and that I was running out of ideas, that I was, in fact, about ready to concede defeat. Enter convergence. On John's business card, just below his name, was printed, "California Licensed Private Investigator." I wish now that someone had taken a photo of my face. I can't even imagine what my expression may have been. I swear to you, the things that happen in my life, if you put them in a book, an editor would say, "No one is going to believe this." I'm going to put them in the book anyway.

One thing led to another. John gave me a few brief pointers. Persistence and time eventually led to success. I almost wish it hadn't, but again, that's another story.

This story is John's. During our conversation that first night, he mentioned that there had been a story about him in The Gazette a few years back. It was when he mentioned that he was also a collector of rare books and had owned a book store that I remembered having read the article, and thinking even then, "Now this would be an interesting person to meet."

Nor was I wrong. I look forward to conversation with this other "Doc" as much as anything about the whole Plate experience. Last night, for instance, I expected to make a quick run to Plate for dinner, and ended up spending over three hours at the bar in conversation with John. I've been an English professor. I still hang with English professors. But it took an evening with John to make me look forward to picking up James Joyce again. I was not a fan of Ulysses my first time through it, but I think I may have a new appreciation for it this next time around. Go read that article. Like most of the instances of convergence in my life, if you were to write John Holiday into a book as a character, an editor would most likely say, "No one's going to believe this." Believe it.