Brian is 40. That’s not his actual name. But just in case.
There were not more than 3 or 4 seats out of about 40 at the bar at Buffalo Wild Wings at some average strip mall outside Glen Allen, Virginia. He has long hair but erudite glasses. He could be a hippie or a professor; or I suppose it’s not uncommon to be one and the same. Or he could be a paramilitary white supremacist who drives a monster pick up truck in the parking lot outside. No way to know.
He remarked about how hot the habanero sauce was on his wings.
Brian went to a competitive public high school for engineering. But he dropped out at age 17. Joined the Marines after 9-11. Served in Falluja.
He was a math and history A+ student in high school, and a mechanic in the Marines. He serviced vehicles driven by the MPs. Those weren’t police enforcing laws or being diplomats in Falluja. They were people trying to find parties who constructed IEDs and killed young foreign soldiers as they drove by typical suburban streets. Some of those MPs and Marines, for some reason, also wanted to kill.
Brian teaches autistic people. He doesn’t have a college degree.
His students range in age from 16 to 22. You can be 22 years old and still in high school.
His mom is from a small rural town in Virginia. Clarksville. Baptist? No. Traditionalist Catholics. Mass in Latin.
He just got back from backpacking in the Shenandoah wilderness. That’s how he spent spring break. By himself. Shivering. Eating beef jerky and freeze-dried apricots. He likes waterfalls. He has wanderlust; his own word for it. He loves Utah and Colorado, too.
He wouldn’t tell me about any of the names of his students. Unethical. I said, think of a theoretical guy named Billy.
We talked for three hours.
A few months ago, I met a retired guy named Bob who was in Del Mar, north of San Diego, to see the Breeder’s Cup horse race. Bob was from Virginia. We talked for two hours about how interesting I thought that commonwealth is.
Brian has no sense of taste. He was born that way. I can’t remember the name of the congenital trait.
God’s children are fucking remarkable.