Ashley and I had traded cancellations for weeks. When we finally met up for blog lunch it was like a sigh of relief. We met at The Shack, a little seafood joint on 62nd near Broadway Extension. We were promptly seated.
We ordered drinks and a starter of a dozen oysters, raw on the half shell. After our server left, we determined we should split a sampler of fried catfish, crawfish, and fries for our entrée. We were into it.
Ashley’s majoring in applied mathematics and will graduate in December. She wants to do data science and mathematical analytics for government or the tech sector. She may apply to work for a Northrup Grumman or Tinker.
Our oysters arrived and I could sense Ashley’s tension. They were beautiful and plump and raw on the half shell. I dressed them with cocktail sauce, horseradish, and lemon. She admitted to me that she hadn’t had an oyster since she was a child and it was an off-putting experience. She said she had to psych herself up for our lunch on the drive there. She slurped one down and suddenly relaxed. She liked them!
Ashley recently learned she is diabetic. She found out in August. She is working to manage it through hacking her diet. Trying to reduce and cut sugars wherever she can. She misses bread rolls the most in her pursuit of better eating. But she’d rather that than end up on insulin and face a potential life of insulin dependence.
“Sugar dependency is hard,” she said, noting the American tendency toward excess.
Ashley said she also misses pizza. I told her of my time attempting, and failing, to perfect pizza dough. I even tried a dough with just potatoes, oil, and water. It was a disaster.
I know Ashley almost entirely within the walls of Staples. As SUPER! BitCon was first getting off the ground, I needed some print work done fast. I had almost never even been inside of a Staples prior to that day, but I was in a bind. Ashley and her team took care of me and I have been a regular customer ever since. When sending over common print jobs, sometimes I’d just write “Ash knows.” She loved that.
Our fried fish platter arrived and was fantastic, but not nearly enough for two people to share. I’d recommend getting the “dinner” sized portion if you’d like to split the meal.
As we ate, we reminisced about Pokemon GO – and BitCon’s Bricktown GO flash mob that brought 4,500 gamers to descend upon the heart of OKC. She vented that the game was rushed to market and didn’t hold her attention. I agreed.
Ashley joked, but wasn’t really joking, that she wants to be the CEO of Google one day. She’s going to go to the next mock-interview at their campus in Boulder. They’ve organized it for women only. The company is committed to bringing more women into the tech sector.
Ash is in the home stretch of her degree and already planning her graduation party. She’s going to do it up big in Guthrie at a ranch. She’s excited to be almost done and now hunting for jobs.
Ashley and I talked politics. The tragedy in Niger. Trump’s email scandal. Hypocrisy.
Ash has considered law school. But maybe she just wants to do tech. “I have a very logical brain,” she said. You must have the right kind of brain to think like a lawyer. If I’ve learned anything from watching on the periphery of Aimee’s law school experience, it’s that.
I came to the end of my notebook and flipped it over to write on the backs of the remaining pages. “You can get more at Staples,” Ash said with a wink.
We talked about local restaurants and dives. Pizza. Oysters. And a Lemon Cloud Pie found at The Drake.
I lamented lemon deserts – one of the few foods I have difficulty stomaching. I recounted a time long ago when I had first met Aimee. Aimee loves to bake – and she had made lemon bars for my room mate and myself. I ate those damn lemon bars. But the next time she was going to bake I had to be real with her. I much prefer chocolate. She obliged and all was right in the world.
We sat for a moment and let the heavy meal settle.
Ashley discovered a bit of lemon pulp in her hair.
I laughed that she must’ve been going a little too hard on the oysters. She made a bald joke and said I just don’t know what it’s like to have to deal with hair. She regaled me with how she chopped her hair off after breaking up with a girlfriend years ago. She hasn’t gone back since – and won’t. She recently got a fresh haircut after feeling like it grew out too long and she looked like a Beatle.
“What’s the best Beatles song?” I asked her.
She thought. Curled her lip and darted her eyes all shifty. “Strawberry Fields Forever.” She specifically likes the Across the Universe version.
I told her I think “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is the best of all. And I agreed – Across the Universe nailed that cover also.
I had to run for a meeting. “I’m sorry you have to go back to work,” she laughed.
It’s interesting the people we meet sometimes. I wrote of the unpredictability of permanence in relationships in my entry on Anna Facci. When I walked into that Staples in January of 2014, I would have never guessed I would make a good friend with the employee behind the counter. I’m glad I did. Ashley has an incredible heart and an analytical wisdom to pair with it. She’ll go far.