By Manijeh Badiozamani
Khosrow and Manijeh dressed as hippies for a Halloween party
“You have the memory of an elephant,” my husband, Khosrow often tells me.
I suppose it is a good thing, and I take it as a compliment. I remember places, recall events, and seldom forget a face.
When Khosrow was a student at Northwestern University, I met and knew most of his fellow graduate classmates. There was a young man by the last name of McMillan. Everyone called him Mac. He was short, plain in appearance, wore black rimmed glasses, and was always very quiet, at least I did not find him talkative.
Eventually Khosrow finished his studies and we moved from Evanston to Indianapolis. Then we moved to Boise, Idaho and I got a job at a brokerage firm. Learning about the stock market with its ups and downs, and the myriads of new stuff every day, was so exciting that I totally forgot about renewing my teaching license! Letting my teaching certificate expire was totally out of character for me. I’m a great advocate of keeping one’s professional licenses up-to-date.
I was ready to go to grad school to get a Ph.D. when I thought about it again. By then the rules in Idaho had changed and to renew the license one had to have a certain college credit through continuing education, in addition to taking a battery of tests. I enrolled in the required course.
On the first day of class, while waiting for the professor to show up, I looked around and suddenly there was Mac, smaller and older, but definitely Mac. What was he doing in that class? He already had a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. I thought I’d better say ‘Hello’ just to be sure he was really McMillan.
“Hi, you look familiar. Have you ever lived in Illinois? Around Chicago, Evanston area?”
Mac looked at me with expressionless eyes and mumbled something that amounted to a negative response. So, I did not further the conversation. Then I looked to my right, and there was a gentleman who looked awfully familiar.
“Have I seen you somewhere, maybe recently?” I asked him.
Suddenly, from the corner of my eyes, I noticed Mac was looking at me in a strange way! Oh, boy, I bet he thinks this is my way of meeting guys!
As it turned out, I had seen the second gentleman at a German festival two weeks prior, where everyone was doing the chicken dance. So, I was right, I had seen him before.
Less than a month later, there was an arts and craft show at a park in Boise. Lots of folks were walking, browsing, and shopping. Suddenly I spotted Mac. I pointed to him and asked Khosrow, “Isn’t this guy McMillan from the geology department at Northwestern all those years ago?”
“Yes, it is Mac alright!” We both walked up to him and this time my husband started the conversation.
“Hi Mac! What are you doing in Boise?” Mac lightened up, exchanged pleasantries with Khosrow, and introduced us to his wife and daughter. At this point, I had to say something.
“When I asked you in class if you have lived in Chicago area you responded negatively,” I said cheerfully. His wife answered me.
“Well, he thought you were hitting on him, or you were using a pickup line!” she said chuckling. Obviously, he must have told his wife!
But one mystery for me was to find out why he was in that class.
Soon we found out. His wife had received a promotion with her job, and they had moved to Boise. Mac had decided to teach high school science, and had to take the course, which was a requirement for certification.
We all laughed about my lame “pickup line.”
But that’s what sometimes happens when you never forget a face. You get accused of all sorts of nefarious things.
MANIJEH BADIOZAMANI is a literary non-fiction writer whose stories have been published on the web and in anthologies. She was born in Tehran, Iran, and has lived in the United States for the past fifty years. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho. She has taught at the college level and has also worked in the private sector.
Manijeh Badiozamani’s latest book, One Summer in My Life, A Memoir in Short Stories, chronicles her life in a series of short stories that offer glimpses of a life lived in two cultures, rich in friends, ventures, and love. Published by Hallard Press, it is available on Amazon in both print and ebook formats.
11 thoughts on “The Pickup Line”
I left this site….and returned. There’s something about Mac that doesn’t quite add up. Clearly, you knew him. You specifically identified the place and he didn’t follow up by asking any questions. And then later you and your husband identified him again – it was never the other way round. Perhaps he was trying to hide something from his Evanston past and was concerned someone from that past was now in his present.
Hummm, Marsha! You make me wonder if he didn’t want anyone to know he was going to teach high school!
I love your stories Manijeh!
Thanks a bunch!
I want to hear more about doing the chicken dance at a German festival – not two things I’d expect to see together.
Oh, they absolutely go together. Chicken dance, or chicken song is an oom-pah song. They play it at Oktoberfest.
I love that story! It reminds me of a pick-up that didn’t happen in my life as a grad student. I was sitting in a swivel chair at a very nice piano bar, listening to another grad student play requests. A gentleman asked to buy me a drink. I said, “no.” He came back a second time and told me to smile more. I said, “would you smile if your husband were sitting across from you with another woman?” He said, “if that was my husband, I’d sure do something.” I looked at the handsome stranger and his date and asked,” What time will you be home tonight, dear?” “”He quicly responded, “earlier than you, as usual.” We became married the following year.
Really fun story, Phyllis. I want to hear all the details!!
Also loved your stories, and Marsha’s comment. She is definitely a mystery lover.
Will have to buy “One Summer in My Life” in the book form.
Even though I own an iPad, being “old Fashioned”, I like to hold pages.
The “Green People” will have to plant more trees.
Thanks, Ben. I think you will enjoy the short stories in “One Summer in my life”. Check out my other book on Amazon: Family Tales from Tehran.
I love your stories !