What I am about to put down here is common knowledge, but I’ll share it anyway in case those of you who are new to The Cave were unaware:The Cave Mistress is (mostly) a hermit.I mean, I know how to comport myself in public situations. My Christopher did a great job when he was pack leader; he taught me how to do that very well.Now, don’t get me wrong — I had great home training growing up. My parents and grandparents gave me proper instruction on how to act when in the company of others. But during my 16 years with Christopher, he took those instructions to a new level. He was one of those people who never met a stranger. We could go anywhere and he’d have conversations with folks that I would swear he’d known in at least seven past lives and three future ones. When questioned later about who the person was, he’d often answer with a shrug and explain patiently the art and value of random connections.It rubbed off on me, to his joy. I’d come home from store runs and tell him about the conversation I had with Ms. Bertha, or Sarah, or one of the myriad other people we’ve come to know over the years who work at our local market. With a big smile, he’d say, ‘What? You were talking to people in the store?’ I would, of course, roll my eyes at him and give the big Whatever.I am now the pack leader and am oft dismayed at how often I find myself talking to random people. I hear some of his jokes come out of my mouth. Out at dinner last night, I asked the server a question. After she gave an answer that I was hoping for, I said, ‘You are a gentle person and a scholar,’ to her ultimate delight. That was Christopher’s line, straight up. I say things to people that he hadn’t said, but I know that he would if he had been in a similar situation. Maybe he did, in a past life and now the phrase has wafted through time to be given to me.I use these powers for good, honest.Primarily my own good because hermiting has its limits. Having stimulating conversation with oneself is fine, but after a while, it’s easy to know all the responses, less-than-witty repartie, and snappy comebacks. My monsters, while extremely entertaining, do not have a mastery of the human language. They are dogs and we have dog language conversations that are extremely stimulating. Yet, I digress …It was no surprise that I would encounter people in the universe who carry the first names (or middle, or last, for that matter) of people I’ve known or loved (or even loathed, right?). Yet there are some names that make me take a pause.Hey, how are you? Yeah, this heat is something else, right? How long have you been coming here? Me too! By the way, my name is …The heart skips a beat.I can’t talk to you! Your name is Chris? You’re a man and your name is Chris, as in Christopher? Nope. Only my Christopher is named Christopher and he Left earlier this year.I have a similar reaction if the person is called Don. The reaction is less pleasant but still similar if the person is called Bobby (my son’s father’s name; yeah, he was my first husband, but I only add that specific information when pressed to do so … long story, but we shall not speak ill of the dead, ever, but especially on Father’s Day weekend).And no one is suggesting anything beyond a simple ‘Hi, how are you?’, idle chit-chat in the store, or while stretching before a gym workout. It doesn’t feel right, like those shoes you try on in the store that you weren’t sure about anyway and realize, before you can get your foot all the way in, that they aren’t for you.Hearing those names activates some of the reptilian areas of my brain: Chris/Christopher and Don make me flash to good times, laughter, and growth … Bobby, causes some really negative primal junk to pop out (as in Hulk smash! with ensuing havok. Not really, but in the imagination, totally).Will I avoid people with these names for the rest of this life? I hope not. There are probably some very nice Chris/Christophers, Dons, and Bobbys out there. Maybe they will let me address them by a nickname or other appropriate moniker. Or maybe I’ll wait until the next life to talk to them if not.
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