I'm having a terrible month: my father is sick, my boyfriend has moved away, and my classes are going horribly. Depressed, I go jogging, and then stop into the gay-friendly coffee house for a post-jog smoothie.
Bruce is standing in line with a friend!
Not the Bruce I know now, chubby and bald, fighting health problems and chronic depression. The Bruce I knew in college in Rock Island: tall and slim, with a sharp face, blue eyes, unruly dark-blond hair, a short beard, an impish smile.
The Bruce I knew in 1979, when we were 19 years old, full of pep and optimism, ready to take on the world.
I am so shocked that I just stand there, staring.
This guy doesn't just look like Bruce from 35 years ago. He has the same stance, the same gestures, the same bemused, sardonic expression.
Years slip away. I want to go up to him and ask about the assignment in Modern American Literature class. I swear I hear "Shadow Dancing" playing in the background.
Gaining control of myself, I stand in line behind "Bruce" and his friend.
They are talking about science fiction! Bruce loved science fiction.
I've rekindled lots of old relationships since moving to the Plains: my Dad's old navy buddy, my grade school boyfriend, the nephew of my first sexual experience. This must be a relative.
But Bruce doesn't have any children. He has a sister; it must be a nephew..
"Bruce" and his friend get their orders -- coffee and chocolate-walnut bars -- and walk past me to the tables. I stare. "Bruce" ignores me. The friend smiles.
They are both in their 20s, probably college students. The friend is of medium height, rather cute, with short brown hair, prominent eyebrows, and an attractive "lost boy" expression.
I get my order and sit across from them, close enough to hear their conversation without drawing attention to myself. Bruce's profile on Facebook lists no nephews. Nobody of college age on his friend list.
This makes me more anxious to talk to this guy, to find the connection with my Bruce from 35 years ago.
Of course, I'm not about to walk up to him and say "You look just like someone I knew 35 years ago." I don't want to draw attention to my age, and besides, it's the oldest pickup line in the book. I'd get sneered at.
Besides, I'm afraid. Could this be my Bruce, zapped to the future in a weird time warp?
The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.