A Good Lookin’ Gainesville Gentleman

Talk first started around the archery range….there’s a new guy in town.  A good looking writer guy.  Then the talk shifted to that nice handsome guy that went to work for the magazines.  And then, subtle hints were dropped in “the circle” that I should meet him.  Eventually the talk shifted to other things. This was all back in 1980 something.  I was struggling to get a break in the outdoor industry, working for free for the state archery association, and trying to get donations for an event.

One day I approached that good looking writer guy asking for sponsorship, and the rest is history.  Rick hired me to sell advertisements for what was then Archery World Magazine. That single event launched my entire career track and life for the next 20 some years.

Much reminiscing as I barrel north to Gainesville Florida at a timid 55mph.  I’m meeting Rick for lunch.  It’s been almost 10 years since I saw him last—at Shot Show in Vegas in fact.  I smile, remembering “back in the day”, the crazy intensity of our jobs with the magazine, him leaving to go work for other companies in the sporting industry, and how we manage to keep in touch despite everything. 

My two hour drive to Gainesville is about over, and without issues. I arrive to Cracker Barrel.  Wal-Marts and Cracker Barrels are two very RV friendly establishments if you need a place to stop for a night—even two.  Will we recognize each other?  I park in the shade.  I wait.  I let the dogs out. I talk to the restaurant manager as he steps out for a smoke.  Then a tiny little convertible sports car zips into the parking lot next to my truck.  

“Well hello there!  Wow, PR this is some TOY!”  There’s Rick, all smiles, in a t-shirt and shades, looking G-Q Cool, greeting me as though we saw each other yesterday.

“Hellooooo!” I dash across the lot as he gets out of that little car…..we hug, then stand back and take a good look at each other.

“Wow, this is big!  You weren’t kidding!  I don’t think I could pull something like this…” Rick says, admiring my Toy Hauler.  He has always been good at saying just the right thing to make others feel good. “Hey, we could put my car in there!  Let’s go!”

We laugh.

He has a plan for lunch at a favorite Asian Restaurant. I get the dogs settled, lock up the truck and trailer, and jump into his little car.  We talk all the way there, and all through the meal, about life, the past, the future, bucket lists, and what we want to do with the rest of our lives.  Rick followed his dream years ago, writing on contract about things he is interested in.  Few people have the perseverance to do it successfully.  Rick is a success story.

He suggests I stay over, meet his gal, have dinner and get a fresh start in the morning.  Hmmm, what about the trailer?  Is there a place I can put it?  We zip over to his condo to examine the parking situation.

 “Rick I have not yet ever backed the trailer up.  I’m not sure I can.  Could I park on the street?”

“Oh, sure.  I’m on the committee, it’ll be fine.”

We go back to Cracker Barrel, I jump into the truck and follow him home. 

It all looked good from the little car, but when I pulled down his street I realized I was in trouble immediately.  The cul-de-sac was barely big enough for me to turn around in to align back onto the street to park.  Then, we discover my set up is longer than the street between driveways.  Not to mention with my Toy Hauler on the side of the street, two cars cannot pass.

We look at each other.  He looks at the parking area.

“You know, if I move my car to the other side, you could back into that whole row of spaces.  I think you would fit.”

Back into a parking lot with a row of cars on one side, and big trees on the other side, and the entrance positioned on a curved road at an angle.

“um…..Sure…..”  Gulp.

The next 20 minutes or so we spend trying to navigate my trailer back down his street, through the cul-de-sac up into the parking lot then swing wide to the right to avoid the tree, and park across about 15 parking spots while leaving room for the cars across from it to get out.

After several misses, inching over to the right further…further… and one more pass now further…with Ricks help signaling…we secure the parking spot…MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

“That was great!  You did great!  I am certain I would not have been able to do what you did.  Nice!”  Rick applauds my effort.

I’m not going to lie, my relief is only shadowed by the state of shock that I actually backed that giant trailer in so nice and tight.  Wow, I really can do this!

We visit over beers, I give him the grand trailer tour and dog introductions, and he fires question after question ab080out my trip.  Then we leave to meet his sweetheart, Ulrike, for dinner and drinks. She has been on an amazing journey.  She left everything she knew in Germany to start a life in California just a few years ago, and her professional Life Coach job search has brought her to Florida.  We engage in discussion about what inspires people to go after what they want and what is it that holds people back? Und Ich spreche ein bission deutche, abba nicht zehr gut.

Ulrike joins us back at Ricks for a grand trailer tour, then he brings her home while I tend to my canine crew.  Rick and I talk about writing and business the rest of the evening.  Intrigued with my business, we talk about adventures we want to go on.  He would like to get up to the Boundary Waters.  Maybe Spain, too. I admire a stack of publications he wrote over the years. 

“Rick, did you really bike to all of these destinations?”  I ask, amazed.  I could get into something like that, touring and hunting the country in my Toy Hauler, yeah, hell yeah!

In the morning we talk more over his amazing coffee and healthy breakfast.  I suddenly reminded how important this guy has been to me.  To my life.  And how lucky I am that after all these years we can still connect.  We complete our Minnesota long goodbye hugs and swear not to wait years before our next visit.  I do have connections to the Boundary Waters, after all…….

As I drive off, a Good Lookin’ Gainesville Gentleman is in my rearview mirror, waving goodbye.

 

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing? Subscribe to My Blog

Speak Your Mind

*