I was riding the rush-hour Orange Line metro train to work and I felt someone looking at me. I glanced up from my seat and the young man standing by the door with the heavy backpack who entered the car in Arlington, wearing the sweat shirt saying "Washington Basketball," adjusted his earphones and lapsed into blank mode.
I looked at him--thinnish, tallish, with stubble on his face and sandy-colored thin straight hair. Hmmm.
I know that my estranged oldest son Jimmy, whom I haven't seen in seven years, lives in Arlington. I saw a picture of him recently, in an article about his current entrepreneurship, and I realized then that I would no longer recognize him if I met him, or any of my three estranged sons, because of the time lapse from when I last saw any of them, when they were adolescents, to the present, now that they would be grown men.
I had studied that photograph, and I had finally recognized aspects of the young man pictured, the detached look in his eyes when he was distracted (his partner was speaking), his cleft chin. I studied the young man in the railway car--he looked familiar yet he didn't.
The nose didn't seem quite right, too large. Then I saw a cleft chin on the man.
I got up and went over to him. "Excuse me, sir," I said.
He ignored me. I got more front and center to him and said again, "Excuse me, sir."
He bared an ear. "Yes?"
"What's your name?" Without hesitation he answered, "Paul."
"I'm sorry, you look like someone I used to know." "No problem."
He replaced his earphone and went back into blank mode. I went over and stood by the opposite door.
I watched to see where he got off. He exited the train at Foggy Bottom with a mass of GWU students.
I know Jimmy has never attended college, so it probably wasn't him. Maybe next time.