My former co-worker’s husband, Paul | NNoTW November 26, 2020

As I’ve noted previously, one of the trademarks of living in North Dakota is the assumption that you are six degrees of separation from basically everyone else in the state.  Kyle and I once went to lunch in Grand Forks and didn’t recognize anyone in the restaurant and so we walked out and returned through another door in case we were accidentally in a Twilight Zone-type of situation.  Sometimes that assumption can get you in trouble, which is the story I am going to tell you now.

In the days of yore, Kyle and I landed back at the Minneapolis airport after a sunny trip to Boston.  The baggage claim was packed, and Kyle deposited me and our carry-ons off to the side and squeezed into the fray to get our luggage.  Cell phones didn’t do anything besides make phone calls back then, and so I decided to partake in everyone’s favorite activity before we had little handheld computers to scroll through: people watching.

Next to county fairs, airports are top shelf for some really solid people watching.  I’m guessing I saw some great stuff, like a little girl in sparkly sunglasses feeding Cheetos to a goat (maybe that was at the fair), but I became distracted by a handsome gentleman standing ten feet off to my left.  I wasn’t distracted because he was handsome, but because I knew him.

I have a great memory for things like ice cream and perceived ills.  I have a horrible memory for people.  My horrible memory is definitely exacerbated by the fact that I’ve lived in quite a few places and get faces and situations mixed up in my head, and not at all because I’m self-centered and often preoccupied by my own me-ness.  Which was definitely not the case at the airport that day.

I caught a glimpse of this feller out of the corner of my eye, and immediately went through an incredible series of mental gymnastics trying to place him in space and time.  Not coming up with an answer, I decided to get a better look.  I did that thing where I pretended to search around for something far off in the distance – Is that Coldstone Creamery I smell? – and instead surreptitiously sneaked a few glances at my unclaimed compadre.  I did such a good job in my ruse that the gent, who had been nicely minding his own business, quickly peered over at me, probably to see if he could get in on a cup of Cake Batter Batter Batter.

Suddenly, it dawned on me: he was my former co-worker’s husband, Paul.  I was very proud of myself.  Paul and I hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years; good on me to recognize him after all the time!

I looked over at Paul, and smiled.  Paul gave a polite half-smile back, and then turned away.

Now I was confused.  I, of the horrible memory, had recognized Paul; didn’t he recognize ME?  I thought back over all of our company parties and group lunches and random passingsby when he came to pick up his wife from work.

I’ll just go over and say hello, I thought to myself.  Paul obviously wasn’t expecting to run into me at the Minneapolis airport, and he probably wasn’t totally sure it was me.  I hadn’t altered my hair or my looks since he’d seen me, but I had gotten married, and they say that marriage does change a person.

But wait, I thought.  His body language suggested that he DID recognize me.  Was he going out of his way to avoid the connection?  Sure, I considered Paul a friend(ish); but were the feelings mutual?  I scowled at Paul, who had turned back and was peeking at me out of the corner of his eye.  I was always perfectly pleasant to him, and certainly we knew each other well enough to acknowledge one another in an airport.  What the heck, Paul?

I glared at Paul for several minutes while he did he best to look everywhere but at me.  Kyle appeared, and I gave Paul a final pinch-lipped head shake – very rude, Paul – before we left.  Paul seemed relieved.  I also gave my husband an earful about this obvious slight all the way to my parents’ house.  I was still lecturing him as he turned the TV onto Mad Men, which was in its final season at the time.

“I mean, I know I’m not for everyone, but to not even say hello??” I told Kyle.  “First-thing tomorrow, I’m going to email his…wait, there he is now!”

I pointed at the screen, where the actor John Slattery (playing Roger Sterling) had come into focus.  John Slattery, of Iron Man 2 and Sex and the City and the Minneapolis Airport, where I had just been giving him the stink eye because I thought he was my new archenemy/former co-worker’s husband, Paul.  John Slattery, who probably wasn’t sure if he should turn his back on a crazy person in a public place.  John Slattery, who I hope had a good time in Minneapolis.

Today, on Thanksgiving, I would like to say thanks to John Slattery of Veep and Churchill for not calling security on me that day, and to my former co-worker’s husband, Paul, who I assume is fine, and to all of you wonderful North Dakota Nice friends and readers for all of your support and messages and you-ness.

I figured television-and-film’s John Slattery would not appreciate having his unapproved photo on North Dakota Nice, so the picture above is one of our annual ChrisHannukah family photos, taken on Thanksgiving back when our oldest son was a little guy and our youngest was just a twinkle in our hearts.

And speaking of a twinkle in my heart, this week’s news is about a daily song, Gifts for Grandparents, and a free holiday cookbook.  Read on.


Williston’s Debi Rolston was one of two million Walmart employees who submitted a recipe for the company’s annual recipe content, and she was one of three people nationwide to actually win.  Her recipe for savory Upper Michigan Pasties is in the article. (KFYR TV)

Know someone in Fargo that needs supper tonight?  Fargo’s Neighborhood Church is opening its doors for 100 people to dine. (KVRR)

Every Monday at 7:20am, Mandan’s Colleen Reinhardt sings the national anthem on Facebook Live. (KX Net)

Williston’s McVay Elementary gathered up 100 blankets for people in need around the community. (KX Net)

Two Fargo businesses gathered up Thanksgiving dinner for 25 families in need. (KVRR)

Minot’s Jessica Reiswig and Cheryl Merck are organizing “Gifts for Grandparents” in order to gather up as many small gifts as they can to be given to assisted living residents on Christmas Day. (KFYR TV)

Instead of presents, little 3-year-old Liam Beyer of Williston donated pet toys to the local shelter. (KX Net)

The Bowman Extra has compiled a free community holiday cookbook, which you can download here. (Bowman Extra)

In case you didn’t see it: In National nice news, Zoom is lifting its 40-minute free time limit so families can gather on Thanksgiving. (Good News Network)

And finally, Target employees in Grand Forks have been donating  bags and time all year to the Grand Forks Senior Center. (Facebook):

(Like the story above? Check out this one about my Ford Tempo, or this other one about our outdoor rink.)

3 Comments Add yours

  1. angel wings says:

    Gorgeously written “slice of life” here, so thank you for sharing. Also, thank you for sharing the Gifts for Grandparents link farther down in the post! Ive been looking for something like this program for some time now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, and I’m so glad you connected to Gifts for Grandparents!

      Liked by 1 person

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