If you blog long (and hard) you put a lot of yourself out there. This is mostly brought to light when meeting people for the first time that seem to already know all your best stories. Strangers you know either from a comment left in a box, or those you don’t know at all. They bump into you and say things like, “remember that time that Lazlo missed the ship’s movement? That was funny.”
And I will feel at a very slight disadvantage, you know? I don’t know anything about my interlocutor. It’s not a bad thing, I guess. It is what it is. I try to keep my digital life segregated from the analogue side.
So it felt strange yesterday, when talking among my work group – people I have been shoulder to shoulder with for the better part of a year – to learn that there are people who know a pretty good deal about me, yet know so very less than those who I’ve never met.
One of the guys had been a rescue swimmer in helicopters before being commissioned and serving as a Combat Systems Officer on one of our great carriers. He understands enough aviation to razz fighter pilots (as a company that hires mostly military folks from Sandy Eggo, I am surrounded by helo and Viking jocks), and one of our non-military guys was saying something about having been terrified.
“I bet Lex has never been terrified in the FA-18,” yer man said.
Which, wouldn’t that have been nice.
“Oh, I’ve been terrified,” I answered. There was this time I was scheduled for a close air support training mission and found myself 180 degrees out when push time came. You can’t be late, I explained. So I checked my altimeter, saw that it read 8000 feet and briskly rolled the heavily laden jet inverted for a split s. Only realizing when the nose was pointing straight down, with the windscreen filling up with desert at 4000 feet above sea level, that I’d done the math wrong.” But you’d already heard that story.
Then there was that time when I nearly hit the F-4 Phantom coming at me at 1.1 mach, myself traveling the same speed (or better) in the opposite direction. I diagrammed on the white board showing how big a Phantom appeared at six miles and 18 seconds (a dot), at three miles and 9 seconds (a recognizable airframe), at one mile and three seconds (yep, that’s a Phantom) and at roughly 15 feet, filling up the whiteboard. But you’d heard that story too.
It was pretty cool, to be able to share old stories for the first time to people who had never heard them. At least until I found myself searching fruitlessly for the cap to the whiteboard marker. For what seemed like forever.
It ended up being in my pocket.
Maybe it’s the years. Maybe it’s the mileage.
I’m saving the story about Oyster almost jumping into the net for another time.