Left lane? Right lane.

Saturday I went to visit some friends in Cleveland ... and on the way home, on the turnpike, decided I'd rather drive through Warren than go back into Niles through Austintown and Mineral Ridge.

No biggie - it's about the same time and distance either way, and the toll difference is a quarter - so no real big savings there, either.

As I exited at Mile Marker 209, there were two toll booths open. Being the exit ramp I wanted to take was on the left side, or maybe because maybe I'm left-handed, I decided to take the middle booth - or, as my choices went, the one on the left.

Cause that's me.

Most of the time I got to the right, sometimes I go both ways, tonight was a left-side decision.

As I pulled up to the toll both about 1:30 on an unusually warm Saturday after spending the day working and adding a side-trip on the way home to Cleveland, I started to laugh.

Because the face behind the glass looked kind of familiar.

Yes, I'm that guy - that guy who finds someone he knows damn near everyplace he goes.

The middle tollbooth at Exit 209 of the Ohio Turnpike at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday was yet another place I ran into someone I knew.

He is the father of a very old and dear friend I lost contact with (yeah, imagine that, me, losing contact with someone?) many years ago. She and I, as most of my teenage stories go, spent a lot of time together barely dressed, hot and wet.

(And for the record - get your minds out of the gutter ... she and I learned to be lifeguards in the same class - at the pool at Packard Park - so we spent a lot of time in bathing suits in the water - and then worked together for two summers at the world's largest fresh-water, land-locked, automatically chlorinated concrete bottom swimming pool, or it was at the time, Willow Lake. And rocked out to some of the finest 80's rock at Blossom Music Center drinking Little Kings. Because you can still rock in America. Oh yeah. All right.)

And we spent a few nights out on the town together, too. And, as most of my teenage (and 20's, and 30's) stories go, we didn't kiss. Well, I don't think we ever kissed. We might have, once, but she liked the bad boys and I was never quite the type. But she and I had the type of relationship that made my girlfriend and her boyfriend uncomfortable. To say the least. She was hot, had amazing blue eyes, a great smile, and I had zero self-confidence and game. So we were friends. We had fun together.

ANYWAY ... as we all do, she graduated high school a year after I did, and went to college, eventually got married, and eventually moved away. I haven't seen her since, probably, 1989. I don't think I've seen her father since 1989 either.

Yet there he was. Looking just the same as the last time I saw him.

I think we talked for about 10 minutes until another car came up. We exchanged email addresses; he showed me pictures of his grandkids (her kids), I showed him pics of my kids. He told me about his life, how he's loving being a grandpa, how his younger daughter's a teacher now, as he was, in the school system he taught at.

I also lifeguarded with the younger daughter. She was much the same as her sister - fun, flirtatious, amazing blue eyes ... but she hotter - had those curves I like, was waaaaay outspoken and you could see some serious playfulness in her smile.

But she was the younger sister, and therefore, off limits.

But back to our story.

Funny how sometimes when you take that exit, and pick the tollbooth, just for a change of pace, how good it can make you feel.

I gotta go ... gotta write an email to an old friend. Or two.

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