You’re traveling to Boston and decide to make a stop at the Foam Brewers Taproom in Burlington for a cold and hazy. Inside, the place is jammed with hip-looking travelers like you. You’re looking for a seat in this place, gazing past the light colored rolled up sleeve dress shirts, bow ties, long flowing skirts and collared polka dot shirts, when your eyes pause on the bright Hawaiian shirt worn by the man with the wayfarer sunglasses on his head. He’s sitting next to a totem pole cactus, checking his phone, a cloudy beer in one hand and his shattered iPhone in the other. Next to him happens to be the only seat left at the bar. You make for it. Not until you’ve almost sat down does it strike you, you know this guy.
Running into someone you know in a place you didn’t think would even be part of your trip is quite surprising. At first, you’re not sure it’s really him. But he looks too much like that guy from Fire Masters for him to be anyone but Simon. As you start to sit down, he glances up at you from his phone, and you see on his face the same unspoken question: Do I know you?
“Simon?” you ask him.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Lionell. I saw you on Food Network.”
His face suddenly changes and he seems happy to see you, as if you were an old friend.
“We actually met a little while back,” you tell him. “I was at the Vermont Green Mountain BBQ Championship in 2019 when you won first place brisket. We got to chat for quite a while at your tent and you told me everything about Ramen. You also had me taste your, now famous, baseball pork meatballs, that also took first place that day. Remember? I had long hair back then”.
A small flash of recognition finally hits him.
“Of course! Yes, I do remember you. ‘Lionell’, was it?”
As Simon takes his last sip, a bartender asks if you’d like something to drink. You order the Like Clockwork Double IPA and ask Simon if he’ll join you. He decides he’d better not; he has to leave shortly.
“So what are you up to these days?” you ask.
“I’m working on this new project, I’m really excited about it but I can’t reveal much at this point,” he says. “And you?”
“I’m on my way to visit family in Boston” you say.
“What about you?”
“North Carolina” says Simon.
“And what’s in North Carolina?” you ask.
“Salt, sugar, vinegar and smoke” says Simon.