Friday, May 16, 2008

Witz Pickz: Chance Encounters with Taj Finger

They say we're all connected, six degrees of separation and all that. Occasionally, someone will emerge from the masses and a series of chance encounters will draw two fates together-- maybe you run into an old college roommate after twenty years and renew a great friendship. Maybe you go to the bank one day to cash your last paycheck after being fired and run into an ex who has finally gotten their act together and sets you up with a job. Maybe you innocently eat one end of a noodle and when you get to the middle, you find yourself nose to nose with the one you're meant to be with. Well, if we are all connected, then I think through a series of chance encounters, I have found my connection-- and that connection is with Stanford Basketball Senior Forward Taj Finger.

I've run into Taj numerous times since the NCAA Tournament, and while I've never said anything, I'm beginning to think that I'm supposed to say or do something, not unlike in Field of Dreams. Perhaps I'm supposed to, "Ease his pain," which would make sense, given that Stanford lost to Texas and his basketball career has most likely come to an end. But what am I supposed to do? I mean, whenever I watch Friday Night Lights, I'm nostalgic for the days of my youth when playing soccer meant five practices a week, two games a weekend, a championship on the line, but state level travel soccer and high school Varsity hardly qualify me to talk about what it must be like to play D1 college ball and then be cut loose from the game that you worked so hard to play. Perhaps my chance encounters will give me some clues.

The first time I ran into Taj Finger, I was at Whole Foods. Wandering the prepared foods section, I noticed a tall guy who looked somewhat familiar. When I say tall, I mean 6'8'' and so it wasn't long before I thought the words that would soon become quite familiar to me: "That's Taj Finger..." We both circled the various options for a while, and I thought, "Maybe Taj Finger and I will end up getting the same food..." but then he went for Thai and I wasn't really feelin' it with my heartburn and all, so I got a panini. Meh.

A week or so later, I was standing in line for lunch, midday, middle of the week, at work. And who am I behind in line? Taj flippin' Finger. There was an odd moment of vague recognition, and I knew that he was trying to figure out why I looked familiar the way he had for me. I quickly took out my phone and made a fake phone call to jog his memory:

"Hey, it's Witz...yeah, I know, sorry I took so long to get back to you, I've been researching a role here at Stanford....I know I'm a big movie star, you don't have to tell ME that! Ok, ok, I'll read the script, but you know how these pilots are...but I don't NEEEED that much money...fine, if it's with Natalie then I'll consider it. Cool-- and tell Scarlett to stop calling me, she's coming off as desperate." Click.

Now Taj and I could be friends. Instead, we stood silently in line, ordered our food and went our separate ways. Since then, I have run into him two more times at the same eatery. So what does this mean?

Well, the one thing I seem to be learning from my experiences is that "Taj Finger and I eat similarly." That's not too much to go on. But maybe I'm supposed to ease his pain by simply letting him know that he's not the only one eating crappy food several times a week. Maybe he is super paranoid about ordering a grilled cheese and fries, and when he hears ME do it, he'll suddenly be free to live his culinary dreams. Or what if he's gluten intolerant and doesn't know it? Maybe he was actually supposed to be really short, but his body tried to flee upward from all the gluten and he grew taller? Maybe he's getting taller and taller freakishly, and only stopping eating gluten will make him normal again. What the hell do I know about gluten, though?

In the end, I think I'll probably just ride it out and remember this as one of those awkward connections in life-- I mean sure, maybe his blood contains the anti-bodies necessary to cure all my ailmentss and I must pursue a friendship in order to find this out-- but it's easier just to make awkward eye contact, turn away, and order a grilled cheese.

This Is Amusing Right Up Until Taj Finger Googles Himself and Slaps My Ass (Basketball Style) With A Restraining Order,

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