Tonight I had the privilege of experiencing another blogging incarnation. Jimmy stepped from screen to real life and met me, along with my friend Jay, who is here for Christmas, at the Durham Pizza Palace, which professes to be the oldest pizza parlor in the Bull City. Jimmy greeted us with some Tupelo honey harvested from his own bees and a hug and a smile. We sat and talked long after we had finished our salads, pizza, and beer. We talked over the karaoke that peppered the evening with everything from “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” to “New York State of Mind” to “Call Me By My Name,” the self-proclaimed “perfect country song” (written by Steve Goodman and John Prine) because of the last verse:
I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
and I went to pick her up in the rain
but before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
she got run over by a damned old train
and I’ll hang around as long as you will let me
‘cause I never minded standing in the rain
you don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’
you never even call me by my name
Most of the folks who took the mike did so knowing they were among friends, and forgiving ones at that. It was obvious we were in a room of people who knew each other, even as we were working to be better acquainted. Our technology affords us amazing ways to connect, even before we have adequate vocabulary to describe the connections. (We have e-mail for notes we send wirelessly; perhaps our friends we find while blogging should be called b-friends.) Something happens when we’re together in the flesh, looking at each other, talking, sharing food. A different kind of knowledge – the stuff stories are made of – gets shared and stored so that we can begin to be friends.
I’ve often wondered what possessed God to decide to put skin on. I wonder about the others involved, the timing. I catch a glimpse of understanding on nights like tonight, as Jimmy became flesh before my eyes and an abstract connection became a person who did call me by my name.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .