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We have a family dinner on December 30th every year at my sister-in-law’s house, and my wife’s uncle and aunt are always there. Two of my favorite people. She was a stew for many years on Northwest Airlines, and has tales galore about life on the transcontinental routes as well as the milk runs to Montana; he’s a realtor, and found us the home where we live. (He’s also living proof that there are people up here who talk like the characters in “Fargo.” Oh jeez.) They have two bright kids who were callow teens a few days ago but now, through some bizarre alchemy, are grown-up, married, with tots.
So Uncle is describing last year’s dinner, when he beat my French brother-in-law at ping-pong downstairs. This leads to a recollection of his Army days at Fort Hood in ’67, when there was a guy who ruled the ping-pong tables at the rec hall. Big handsome brute, incredible card player too. And he was in some singing group too, because he was a great singer.
Last name: CHAMPAGNE. Intrigued by the idea of some large slab of American soldier with a huge cheroot striding through life crooning a tune with swooning debs in his wake, pausing from his card game to slam around a pure white ping-pong ball until it was time to ship out for ‘Nam, I got out my phone and surreptitiously searched. The Google, it did not disappoint. Got a hit on the 45 RPM single the Champagne Brothers released; hit play, and while Uncle Gary was talking about life on the base I brought up the phone and said:
“Here he is.”
For my daughter’s demographic, this is commonplace. For my Uncle-in-law, it’s not sci-fi voodoo, because he’s on the computer all the time what with the business and all, but it’s still amazing. He never thought to google the Army buddy who was good at ping-pong. For me, it’s ordinary magic. I am used to this, but it never loses its power to amaze.
It’s an iPhone/Android tear-jerking commercial moment, but it happens all the time. Have you a similar tale?