I had just sat down at the table to ask Wife about something when the man came rushing to our table and also sat down. His face looked familiar, but so did dozens of other’s and just like all of them, I couldn’t put together a name and a face, let alone figure out how the man was related to Wife.
It was my third time at Wife’s family reunion on her father’s side, and with the reunions being arranged every three years, and us missing one, I’ve been going to them almost ten years now. But I’m still an outside looking in, which is fine. The family is organized like the Mafia in that everybody knows his or her close family, and how people are related, but very few have the big picture.
Well, Father-in-Law is one who does have it, and this year, he was also the organizer of the reunion. Which is why the man was so eager to rush to greet him with a big smile on his face.
But of course he didn’t have any idea of who I was, although, we may have greeted each other three years ago as well.
“Oh, so you’re her husband, now I get it. And your name was…?”
“Risto! [pause] Huh, that’s wild!”
I find myself speechless fairly often because my default setting is that people always joke. So when somebody says something like that, that my name is wild, I’m confused when I don’t get the joke. He must have seen it on my face, as did Wife and Father-in-Law who were sitting at the same table, and now, both grinning.
“How do you spell it?” he asked me.
“Um, R-I…,” I began, but he interrupted me.
“That’s right, exactly like it sounds.”
He looked at me with a big smile on his face, probably also trying to figure out if I was making a joke, and then trying to figure out that if I was, what was the joke? He correctly decided there was no joke, and instead changed the course of the conversation slightly. To himself.
“It’s funny, I’ve never heard that name. But that’s good. See, one of my names is Bobcat,” he said.
“Yes, like the animal,” he added.
And then Wife and Bobcat and Father-in-Law spoke about other Bobcats they might know of, but there weren’t many. All I could think of was this guy: He’s Zed from “Police Academy 2” (and 3 and 4). The actor’s name is Bobcat Goldthwait.
But I didn’t bring him up. I just nodded and excused myself, and went to our room.
I saw “Bobcat” a few hours later as we were waiting for the ferry back from the island we all had visited.
“Risto! Awesome name,” he said.
I said thank you.