My mama used to always tell me to behave myself, wherever I went, because, according to her, "You never know who might be watching and wherever you go you will run into someone who knows you -- even if you don't know them."
My mama used to tell me a lot of things. Like never take a ride from a stranger and always wear clean underwear in case you are in a wreck. I guess it would be a double calamity if I had been in a wreck while riding with a stranger and didn't have on clean drawers.
The funny thing is, of course, that just about everything my mama ever told me wound up being true. Let's take that first jewel for instance. Naturally that was an accurate adage because I lived in Porterdale, where everybody knew everybody. I never went any further south of the city limit line than Wood's store -- which might have been 1/10th of a mile outside the village boundaries. I rarely went a mile north of the Yellow River unless she was with me, in which case I was on my best behavior anyway.
As I got older, however, and started expanding my horizons, I learned that my mother was a prophet. Everywhere I go -- and I go a lot of places -- I run into someone I know, or at least someone who knows me. Every time a person comes up to greet me in a strange place I immediately wonder if I had been arguing with my wife or had been picking at my nose or doing some other dastardly deed just prior to the introductions.
A few years ago, I was walking across a little bridge in Maui -- in one of those towns with a lot of K's, U's. P's and L's that I can neither spell nor pronounce. I heard a booming voice behind me shout, "Sometimes you just have to say, 'What the Huck.'" I turned to find a group of my radio fans hurrying up to say hello. How they knew me from behind I will never know because I haven't let anyone print a picture showing that angle since I lost all the hair on the back of my head -- and you can't see me on the radio, anyway.
I was once on a train going from London to Paris. That's a heck of a train. It travels 120 mph and goes right under the English Chanel, which is way wider than the Yellow River. We were in assigned seats, understand, and the lady facing me -- we were in the middle of the car in seats that faced one another -- turned out to be the sister of my colleague, Skip Carson, who worked with me at Boy Scouts for a number of years. I didn't know Skip had a sister and yet, here she was, her knees rubbing against mine right through the Chunnel. Did I mention that she lived in Colorado?
We saw Paris in the same tour group and posed for lots of pictures together and sent them to her brother, just to it confuse him. I've been telling that story to my lovely wife, Lisa, for 15 years and she still doesn't believe it.
A few years ago, I ran into a very nice family from Athens atop the highest peak in Jackson, Wyoming. I am pretty sure I had not littered, been rude to any old ladies or picked at my nose prior to meeting them. Another time, while camping with my family in Montana, the couple in the next tent was from Covington and regular readers of my column. I spent two days hoping that I didn't snore at night.
I have experienced dozens of other such instances, just as I am sure you have. What I am trying to say is that my mama was absolutely correct.
It happened again Thursday. I was about to board a boat on Grand Cayman Island to have a go at swimming with the stingrays. How and why I happened to be in the Cayman Islands is another story for another day, but right in front of me in line was Roger Mosshart, a seed salesman from Bogart. It turns out that he works for Pennington Seed, a company started by the late Brooks Pennington, who used to be my state senator.
Let me tell you something. It is indeed heartening to have a total stranger walk up to you in a foreign country and tell you that he is praying for you.
Roger was with his two beautiful daughters, Laura, who is a senior at Clemson, bless her heart, and Leah, who will be starting school in August at the University of Georgia, hallowed be thy name. We had a long conversation which was grander than the Cayman Islands themselves and found that we have a lot in common. I hope our paths cross again soon.
Meanwhile, remember: It's a big world and you can roam, but you cannot hide -- so behave yourselves. You never know who might be watching.
Regarding your underwear -- you are on your own.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.