Last week, as we were heading out from church, on our way to catch a quick lunch before returning to play and sing for a wedding, my friend and I stopped to chat briefly with a woman, in her mid fifties, wearing a bright red dress and looking great, full of energy and in great humor. I was noticing her new hairstyle, short and sassy and her obvious success at weight loss since I'd last seen her a few months ago.
Just as I was about to greet her, my friend, stuck out her hand and said to the woman, "Hi, I'm Mary Jane!" Linda, of the red dress, extended her hand to Mary Jane. "I'm Linda," she said with a impish smirk. Mary Jane immediately broke out laughing...she honestly had NOT recognized one of her best friends. The new haircut DID change Linda's appearance dramatically, but even I had thought Mary Jane was just clowning around when she had extended her hand in introduction. These two have been friends for more than 20 years.
Funny, I thought, just a few minutes in the hair salon on Saturday and we were presented with the unfamiliar face of an old friend.
The very next day, Monday, I was still thinking about how dramatic the change was as I pulled out of my parking place at Wal-mart. I stopped to let a woman cross with her groceries, and, as she passed in front of my car, she smiled broadly and waved enthusiastically at me. I smiled and waved back.....I'd never seen this woman before, but I wasn't going to embarrass her. Clearly, she'd mistaken me for someone she knew, so why not smile and wave.
After she crossed and I was on my way, my thoughts took me to times in my life when I have waved or greeted someone, mistaking them for someone else, and I thought of how silly I'd felt once I realized my error. I hoped I'd not made this friendly white haired woman feel silly, once she realized I was not who she'd thought. And as I thought about her face, it occurred to me that her face WAS familiar. In fact, as the light turned green, allowing me to proceed home, it hit me. I DID know her! What a dufus! I've known this woman for about five years. We are not best friends, but certainly, we are no strangers. And when last I saw her, she had blond hair, courtesy, I'm sure, of some manufacturer. But on Monday, her blond hair was gone, replaced by her natural, lovely white hair. And in the process, her once familiar face became unfamiliar to me.
I found it interesting that I had two such similar experiences in such close proximity. And it made me wonder how often I pass by the unfamiliar face of an old friend.