At first, you can let the situation go. But before too long, it’s out of control. Too much time has passed for you to just ask straight out. You could just take a stab, but there’s an almost 100% chance that you’ll be wrong.
I’ve long include water running in my regular training, and for the last 18 months or so, I've done this at the Healthstream pool at Kelvin Grove. Like most pools I’ve gone to, there aren't many frequent water runners. In fact, the only water runner I've encountered on a regular basis is my latest 'old mate'.
Even before ‘old mate’, I've always sensed a bit of a bond with fellow water runners, in the same way minorities tend to stick together. I think it’s safe to say that water runners are, by and large, looked down upon by swimmers, who are loathe to share their lane with us slow moving traffic. We really have to stick together.
With this water runner, its different. The bond has been greater.
My 'old mate' greets me every time, by name. If we haven’t seen each other for a while, he asks after me, wonders why I haven’t been around. (If we haven’t seen each other for a while, it’s always me that’s had the hiatus. ‘Old mate’ is like clockwork. The times he hasn’t been there when I’ve been there, I can probably count on one hand.)
Despite this bond, we don't actually talk that much. Mostly, we just bob up and down our shared lane. 'Old mate' wears headphones while he water runs. He puts his Discman in a Tupperware container, and it bobs up and down in the lane too.
We share knowing looks when a swimmer with bad technique throws a little too much water our way. (I secretly call them "splashers".)
On Friday, though, we had a long chat; a meaningful one. I hadn't been water running for a while, and we had a bit of catching up to do - my crash, Frank's crash, and from here we moved on to life after death, the value of faith (and our shared lack thereof). We talked about how, faith or no faith, how important it is to live a good life, and tell your partner that you love them. 'Old mate', it turns out, has been married for 38 years. He must know a thing or two about this stuff.
It was an enjoyable conversation; a conversation that was much too insightful and personal to have with someone whose name you can't remember.
So now, my embarrassment has turned to guilt, and I have to do something. Help me, people. What should I do?
1. Make KKB help me, the way I helped him.
KKB had an “old mate” not so long ago. He rode with down at the Nundah bike track most afternoons. One afternoon at the track KKB gave me a nudge, and I knew straight away that this guy was “old mate”. I introduced myself, and Rob introduced himself back. Problem solved. There's just one downfall to this plan, I'm not sure how amenable KKB is to water running just to humour me.
2. Take a punt and hope 'old mate' corrects me gracefully.
I think it might be Mark, or maybe Chris. But I'm not sure how many 60 year old Marks there are around the place... It's definitely risky, but maybe worth a go.
3. Confess my ignorance, and ask him to remind me.
Embarrassing as hell, but maybe not as embarrassing as making KKB bail me out in his Speedos.
I'm pretty sure he knows I can't remember his name. He's obviously OK with it. Maybe I should just let sleeping dogs lie.
5. Something else?
If you have any ideas, 'old mates', leave me a comment.