I was in my favorite food stuffs gathering establishment the other day when some fellow shouted atme from across the aisle.
“What do you know about that place on your shirt?” he yelled.
Seriously. It was like he was trying to overcome the decibel volume of a jet engine.
I was wearing a University of Illinois t-shirt. The shirt read, “Illinois.”
I told him I grew up in Illinois. I didn’t shout. I didn’t hear a jet engine in the background.
“Where?” He shouted. “I grew up in … ”
He then told me about the township he grew up in and how he played basketball in high school.
“But I didn’t start,” he shouted. “I’m not very tall.”
Of course, with my head full of knowledge about the township he grew up in and the fact that this fellow wasn’t very tall and, therefore, didn’t start for his high school basketball team, I felt I had accomplished enough for one day.
Plus, my grocery cart had all the required supplies I had been seeking.
But, as is often the case, this fellow Illinois expat wanted me to tell him about myself.
“So, where did you grow up?” he shouted.
I still couldn’t hear the jet engine that required him to shout. Maybe my hearing is going out.
“Mid-state … Paris,” I said.
Illinois is a lot like Tennessee in that there are three divisions to the state. There’s upstate, mid-state, and southern Illinois. Unlike my new talkative friend, Illinois is long.
“Yeah, I know where Paris is,” he shouted.
So do I, but I didn’t grow up there. I just wanted to name some place that sounded different. Plus, Paris High School, the Tigers, have always had a traditionally good basketball team.
“I was on the mime team,” I said. “I was state runner up in 1978.”
He thought this over for a minute.
“Wow! My sister was a mime on her high school team,” he shouted.
“She got a scholarship to Indiana Polyester Technical Institute and almost turned pro.”
I noticed the frozen dinners in my grocery cart were starting to thaw.
“Nice,” I said.
I then mimed a guy standing in a grocery store having an awkward conversation.
If I had done that in 1978 I would have won state.
“You know, I see more and more people from Illinois down here,” he shouted. “It’s like the whole state migrated.”
“I also run into a lot of people who moved here from Alabama,” he shouted.
“But do they mime?” I wanted to ask, but didn’t.
“Well, it was nice talking with you but … My frozen dinners are almost thawed — heck, I think one may be cooked by now,” I said.
I laughed and shrugged. Like, “I hate to leave this stimulating conversation, but what can you do?”
“Oh! Yeah, right. Well, go Tigers!” he shouted to me.
I paid for my many months’ worth of edible supplies and was heading out the door when I heard a woman shout to me.
“Hey, are you from Illinois? I grew up there,” she shouted.
I looked around for the jet, but didn’t see one.
I’m pretty sure I’m losing my hearing.
“No, no … I’m from Alabama. I found this shirt in the aisle over by the frozen dinners. Kinda cool, ain’t it?” I answered.
“Oh. I see. Well, I’m meeting my brother for lunch,” she shouted.
My quest for knowledge is insatiable, my thirst for “the truth” is unquenchable.
She then mimed a person shoveling food into their mouth.
“You didn’t, by chance, attend Indiana Polyester Technical Institute, did you?” I asked.
She beamed a big smile.
“How did you know … I went on a mime scholarship. Did you recognize me from the NCAA Mime Nationals?” she shouted.
It’s a small, small world, isn’t it?