My first thought at reading Liz Baumeister's text was she had to be pulling my leg. And that brought to mind one of my favorite scenes from "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Granny comes back all upset from a visit to the Drysdale mansion next door. "What's the matter?" Jed Clampett asks.
"I just went over to the Drysdales'," Granny says, "and when the butler answered the door I asked him if I could borrow some possum fat. ‘Madame,' he said, ‘you wouldn't pull my leg, would you?' Well, I figured one good turn deserved another, so I said, ‘Stick it up here and I'll give it a yank.' He slammed the door in my face." I laughed all the way to Scranton.
Liz had suggested we meet for coffee at a place called "Sweet Lush" on Courthouse Square. Had I known its full name is "Sweet Lush Cupcakery," I may have driven faster.
In the text that had me thinking she was pulling my leg, Liz said every day this cafe selects a name and if you show ID confirming this is your name, you get a free cupcake or latte. She had just checked their Facebook page and that day's name was "Eddie." You can understand my skepticism.
I arrived before Liz and, sure enough, there on the display case was a sign proclaiming it "Eddie Day." I took a seat in the window and promptly texted the whole thing to my daughter, who responded with a "Happy Eddie Day!" followed by, "You are contractually obligated to claim your free cupcake." It was a prompting entirely unnecessary.
If I had to guess, I'd say Liz Baumeister was my student 10 years ago, but it could be longer. I lose track of things like that. What I don't lose track of is the impression Liz made on me from day one. Literally. I noticed her sitting on a bench with a copy of "Blue Like Jazz," a book I had just read. Subtitled, "Non-religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," the book was a Father's Day present from my daughter. One of these "non-religious thoughts" is this: "Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way." Maybe I showed Liz how much I love this business.
Regardless, right off the bat, she and I had something to talk about. And that has never changed. Over coffee and cupcakes we planned to talk about writing. Hers and mine.
Liz is managing editor of a handful of publications, including The Abington Suburban and Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal, in the Times-Shamrock stable, and as I headed to our meeting I kept thinking about how many of our LCCC journalism graduates are working in the field of communications.
This, for a teacher, is the real paycheck. A student-turned-colleague is a joy to behold.
Like me, Liz must produce a weekly column. And like me, she stresses over it. Especially over coming up with ideas. Unlike me, however, she does not have the safety net which I refer to as "The right to plagiarize from myself." I've been doing this for more than 30 years. If I am stuck, I can always go back and re-tool an old theme. Liz's portfolio is only slightly more than a year old.
Wisely, she suggested we get together to "shoot the breeze," as my dad used to say, and I jumped at the chance. If you ask me, one of the best things for writers is to talk with other writers, so this would be not just good for her but also for me. That the day we had randomly chosen turned out to be "Eddie Day" confirmed it.
Since I discovered the notion of "affirmations" — little signs from nature that you are on the right path — some 40 years ago in the books of Carlos Castaneda, I have been keenly aware that coincidences are more than coincidences. Enjoying my free cupcake (I chose the pumpkin with cream cheese frosting) with Liz in the shadow of a sign with my name on it was all the affirmation I needed that not only did we two belong there and then, but also that we needed to do this more often.
As if I needed any greater affirmation, later that evening I attended State Rep. Mike Carroll's annual fundraising event at Fox Hill Country Club and whom did I run into?
State Rep. Eddie Day, of course.
I'm tempted to say seeing him was icing on the (cup) cake. But I am not prone to puns.