Meeting an old semi-acquaintance

I could number the things I knew about him on one hand. He was almost a stranger, glimpsed briefly on the periphery of the small group that occupied my attention during my first year of college. We had never really talked when we were both in college, which gave us even less reason to talk after he graduated.

I knew his nickname. Not his full name, just the name he used in our company. For a while I did not even know how to spell his name.

I knew he had a brother, a more laid-back student I'd often seen among the small groups that occupied the benches near the guidance office, His brother always seemed surrounded by friends.

I remembered the way he played - the slow and methodical way he used to set his cards down on the table, the flick of plastic-sheathed cards confidently moved into position, the way he leaned back and calmly waited for his opponent to make a move. He was always gracious.

I remembered seeing him at the sign-up for organizations in my first year. He took my signature as I joined the computing society. I don't know why that memory endured - perhaps it was because he somewhat resembled an old friend of mine.

I remembered his quiet smile and subdued laughter. I don't remember ever seeing him rage or exult. His face settled naturally into a half-smile. Sometimes he'd get a thoughtful look in his eyes, leaning back and pondering. It is easy to imagine him mediating some dispute among our friends, a calm seriousness reassuring everyone of his impartiality.

How quickly does a stranger become a familiar friend and a welcome sight? I cannot count the things I've learned from two hours and dozens of stories. I know this: he is one of those people well worth knowing more.