Six Degrees of Separation. You know it, right? The theory that’s floated for decades about how interconnected we all are. Wikipedia (absolute authority on everything) says: Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth. In other words, person A only needs a maximum of five people in between to connect to person B -- supposing person A and B don't know each other.
Uh-huh. My problem-solving skills are stunted incalculably when it comes to math word problems. I don't know how many miles Person A is going to travel to see Person B and at what time their train will arrive if they're chugging along at 25 miles an hour while carrying ten hobos weighing 150.5 pounds each. So if that's too difficult for you to swallow too, get a load of this easy-to-follow chart.
Clear now? So I want to test out this Six Degrees theory. Call it a game. Wanna play? I'm trying to look up an old -- er, friend. He’s our first experiment: Bruce Anderson.
I’ve been thinking about you lately, as I have from time to time over the years, wondering what you’ve been up to since we last saw each other. I’ve tried FaceBooking and Googling you (that sounds so kinky -- and kinda fun), but it's like trying to find an engagement ring teed off into a Par 4 fairway (I imagine). Do you have any idea how many Bruce Andersons there are in the world?
Let's start from the beginning. Phoenix, Arizona. August 1973. My father’s friend and your boss, Delbert "Del" Kindred (a pot-bellied, beer-guzzling, dirty-joking good ol' boy), introduced us at one of my family’s barbecues. Remember? I had five brothers and sisters, a dirty cockapoo, a giant shepard mix, and at least one cat (maybe three), all circulating around a Grecian-style pool. I was 18 and you were a year or two older. Amid all the commotion, you sat down and talked to me, and we instantly connected.
Here's a picture of me from 1973 when I graduated high school. It was so long ago, they hadn't yet invented color photography. But this is pretty much what I looked like back when you first met me. Too cool for school, as they say.
Oh, and how about this picture below? That's me in 1974, right after they had invented color. Notice the feathering around my face? Ah, the seventies. That was the long shag I got just after you left. Sorry you missed it.
Unfortunately, the only pictures I have of you are in my memory. You were a slightly built Scandinavian from Minnesota. Maybe Minneapolis. Wiry and slender – all firm, tan, construction muscle – longer white-blonde hair, and mesmerizing blue eyes. I remember thinking of you as a sort of Norse god.
You probably didn’t know this, but you were an important part of my life. You were my first real romance, the first to introduce me to true intimacy. Too many prying eyes here, so I don't want to kiss and tell too much, but those days were some of the most exciting – and educational – of my very short life up to that point. And I promise you, long, hot showers have never been the same.
Two months after we met, on a sunny afternoon in October, you came by my house on Evans Drive. In the street in front of my house, you asked me to go to Florida with you. The question caught me totally off-guard, and I wasn’t ready to leave home. I had also just happened to see my high-school crush and realized I wasn’t quite over him (what a 13-year brain fart that turned out to be). It was hard to say goodbye to you – I was torn – but off you to went to Florida.
Thirty-some years later, I wonder, where are you now? Did you get to Florida safely? Are you still there? Did you get married, have children, and move back to Minnesota?
Not long before you left Phoenix, you came over and helped me paint my bedroom. It was a family project and you fit right in. Then you did something that no other man has ever dared to do, something I’ll never forget as long as I live. My father and brothers loved you for it. Do you remember what that was?
I’m not looking to rekindle any romance. But I’d love to know what you’re up to, Bruce Anderson. If you’re out there, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blogging Buds: In the spirit of Six Degrees, stop a minute and think whether you know a Bruce Anderson or someone else who might know a Bruce Anderson. He would be 53-55 years old now. Ask your significant other, ask your friends, blog about it and link back here. Is there someone you want to look up via the Six Degrees theory? Pass along this message, and let’s see if it's more than a theory or six degrees of bullshit.