Both of my kids are students at Oregon State, and my daughter Pam, a sophomore who’ll turn 20 in a few weeks, is fond of telling me whenever she encounters any prominent Beaver athlete in one of her classes or anywhere else on campus.
She’s just a big OSU fan and not, like, a groupie, in case you were wondering.
Anyway, after her latest athlete sighting a couple days ago, I asked her if I’d ever told her I ran into former Beaver kicker Alexis Serna at the grocery store one day a year or two ago. She was unsure, so I gave her the story, such as it is:
“I came out of one of the aisles and he was there, pretty much right in front of me, and he was basically looking right at me. I thought it was him, so I said ‘Alexis Serna?’ He said yes, so I held out my hand, and we shook hands, and I told him, ‘Great career. Thanks for all the good work.’ He thanked me for saying that.”
“That’s nice,” Pam said.
“And then a few weeks ago I ran into Chris Stephens in the locker room at Timberhill,” I said, referring to the former Beaver basketball player and the gym where I play handball.
“It was the same kind of deal. I came out of the sauna, he was sitting on a bench and basically looking right at me. So I said, ‘Chris Stephens, isn’t it?’ He smiled and said, ‘Yeah.’ So we shook hands and I said, ‘I really enjoyed watching you play. Thanks for a great career.’ He smiled again and thanked me.’”
“Wait,” Pam said. “You just came out of the sauna? You shook hands with him while you were naked?”
I had to think for a second what my clothing situation, or lack thereof, was at that moment. While thinking, I reminded Pam, “It’s a locker room. Half the people in there are naked at any point in time.”
“I know,” she said. “But it just seems weird to be naked and shaking someone’s hand.”
Well, in this case I avoided coming across as a weirdo to Pam; I recalled that while I had been in the sauna, I was clad in handball togs at the time. I’d gone in there momentarily before playing just to help get the aging muscles loosened up on a cold day.