Opinion: Well, it was nice catching up … or was it?


I read the email, despite thinking it was spam. I didn’t recognize the sender’s address but maybe it was some rich guy in Uganda who wanted to send me a million dollars — after I send him $5,000 for shipping and handling, of course. Who’d want to miss out on an offer like that?

I stared at the correspondence in disbelief. It was from Harris, my freshman year roommate at college:

“Hi there! Remember me? Your long-lost roommate? The last time we saw each other was l967. How have you been? I Googled you and found your phone number. I’ll give you a call tonight and we can catch up”

Signed, Harris

I hadn’t talked to him in 55 years — including the year we shared a dorm room. We didn’t have much in common. He was a night person, and I was a morning person, which made for lousy roommates, although 14 years later that combination made for the start of a very successful marriage for me.

What would Harris and I talk about? How do you “catch up” with someone you never “caught” anything with in the first place? When my wife came home, I shared my concern.

“Mary Ellen, who is the last person in the world you’d think would email me?”

“Your cousin, Leo? He doesn’t have a computer.”

“No, it was from Harris. And he’s calling me tonight.”

“Harris? Your freshman roommate? That’s wonderful. You two can rehash old times.”

“I don’t think we have any old times.”

About 8:30 the phone rang.

“Hi, it’s Harris.  How have you been?”

“Pick a decade, Harris. I’ve really had some ups and downs.”

“You were always a comedian. So, what’s been going on with you?”

“Well, I got married after college, we had a kid and I worked for 40 years until my recent retirement. What have you been up to?”

“What an amazing coincidence! That’s pretty much exactly what has been happening with me, also.”

(Loooooooooooong pause.) Harris picked the conversation back up.

“My wife’s name is Sherrie.”

“My wife’s name is Mary Ellen. That pretty much ends those amazing coincidences right there.”

“Let’s see … you don’t have a dog named Hector, do you?”

“No, every dog we ever had is dead. I forgot to mention that when you asked me what’s been happening.”

(Another long pause.)  Harris spoke again.

“Hey, I gotta go. We could probably talk forever. We should do this again.”

“Harris, if we talk every half century, this was probably our last conversation.”

“Well, it was fun reconnecting with you, Eric.”

“Eric? This is Dick. Wasn’t Eric your roommate sophomore year?”

“Oh! I’m sorry. Eric is my 8:45 call. It was fun talking to you, anyway.  Just like old times.”

“Yup, exactly like old times.”