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Column: Musings & Observations

Published 10:27 am, Monday, March 31, 2014
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Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. -- John Lennon

Spring is here! After another especially dismal winter, the season of pessimism has morphed into the season of optimism and I couldn't be happier. It's time for: March Madness; warmer weather (not quite yet); longer days; the start of the baseball season (my favorite sport); the final season of "Mad Men" (can't wait until April 13); and the second season of "Bates Motel," the prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."

In my crowded life, coping is tricky at times, somewhat of a high-wire prioritizing act. There's so much stuff vying for all our attention; most people I've spoken with feel like there are always more things to do and more things to do.

Those special little moments -- what I like to call out-bloody-standing moments -- with family, friends and people I meet along the way, are delightful, unexpected and sometimes magical moments that bring a smile, often surprise, can put things in perspective and definitely keep me centered though the craziness. So far this spring, there have been a lot of those moments. Here's my highlight reel.

Walking into the Darien Library the other day, a woman on her way out stopped and asked if I was a musician.

Having had that question asked on many occasions, I was waiting for her to name the musician I reminded her of or looked like.

Instead, she just said, "The cowboy boots and sport coat combo. You have got swagger; I thought you were either a musician or actor." I just smiled and thanked her for the compliment.

When I got home, I told my wife the story and asked her if she thought I had swagger. She burst out laughing and gave me her look, which spoke volumes.

I was reminded of the time my daughter, Kelly, told me that a co-worker had said I look liked a badass.

As with her mother, she said she burst out laughing and told the co-worker, "You are so wrong." The women in my family know how to keep it real.

My wife and I lived in California for over 12 years and had the good fortune to have so many authentic Mexican restaurants nearby. Moving to Connecticut, we experienced Mexican restaurant culture shock and had difficulty getting our authentic Mexican food fix.

Over the years, we've discovered a few really good restaurants, but we're always on the lookout for new places. Rio Bravo, a new Mexican restaurant in Fairfield, is the real deal. Authentic food -- they make guacamole tableside -- and humongous portions. It's always good to find a new Mexican restaurant.

Recently, someone asked my wife and I how we met, after telling us we looked like a cute couple. I told her we met at a bus stop in Los Angeles; after getting off the Wilshire Boulevard bus -- where she'd caught my eye -- to transfer to the No. 1 bus.

In one of those, "you can't make this stuff up moments," she told us the story of how her parents met.

Her dad saw her mom while driving by a bus stop, but before he could pull over and say hello, she boarded the bus.

He could have looked at it as a lost opportunity but he didn't; he followed the bus until she got off and then pulled over and introduced himself.

There is a story about a couple that met on a Long Beach Transit bus and got married on that bus a year later.

In 2012, they celebrated their 20th anniversary on the bus; the driver was the same woman who had driven them on their wedding day.

I'm sure every day, people on a bus or train catch somebody's eye. But, do they say something?

It's all in the timing, and if it weren't for film actor and martial artist Chuck Norris, I probably would never have met my wife.

I was leaving the Chopping Block Restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard, after my lunch shift, just as Chuck Norris and his entourage were entering. I decided to stay to see the martial arts demonstration he and his students were putting on and catch a later bus, where a very attractive, tall blonde with choppy hair and a definite European look was sitting between standees.

On March 10, my wife and I quietly celebrated Chuck Norris' birthday -- we call it our Chuck Norris anniversary -- going out to a pizza restaurant as we did on our first date.

We talked about how we met. I recalled we sat together on the No. 1 bus, while she said we sat apart.

We did agree that when we got off at our mutual bus top in Venice Beach, we decided to go out on a date.

We had a good laugh when I told her, I probably would have gotten off an earlier bus stop, if she did.

She gave me another one of her fabulous famous looks, "I'd have hoped so."

Barry Halpin can be reached at barryhalpin@aol.com.