[In response to a reader who thought the other version was too long, here's the the short version. The original is 2418 words, this is a mere 390.]
During my first couple of days of junior high, I was walking to class at the Seminary building. I'm about 25 feet from the front door and the door opens and Kent walks out. It was one of those moments that almost takes on a surreal, slow motion feeling when I look back on it. He's alone. He's carrying his books. He's got thick curly hair and the most wonderful brown eyes, and he's laughing and happy and moves like a gazelle. He's easy and confident in his stride. He likes himself and I instantly like this new Kent I'd hardly even noticed before.
Many years later, decades later, I was walking through an office buildlng and I saw Kent's name on the door of this tiny little office off in the corner in a dark hallway and it brought all this back instantly. I could see through the glass door that he was in there behind his desk. So I knocked, and he looked up and motioned for me to come in. I introduced myself and he remembered me from being in his ward all those years ago. I asked him about his family and he asked me about mine. I was in there maybe five minutes max. He wasn't at all like I had remembered and idealized him. He'd lost his most of his thick curly, sandy brown hair and what was left was thinning and gray. His face was puffy and he wore thick bifocal glasses. My beautiful handsome Kent had turned into a middle aged man with gut--not a big beer belly, but a gut nonetheless--just like the one I carry around.
And when he touched me--the handshake that is--there was no magic, no electricity. It was just a handshake, it wasn't firm and manly, just kind of soft and half hearted like years in that little, cramped office had drained all the vitality out of this once virile young man who was now just an old married man like me, doing his best to provide for his family, working a job he probably wasn't exactly in love with, but he did love his wife and kids and so it was all OK. He was being true to his loves and his loved ones and I had to respect him for that.
2 weeks ago