About 5 years ago, my hubby, Gary and I, are doing the Sacramento to Boise drive to attend my brother-in-law's 70th birthday party. We will see my sister Jeanne, her Chinese husband, and all of the Cheng children and grandchildren-- including Chi, their second son and the family's rock star.
Chi and Gary have never found common ground. Gary is a conservative, Midwestern, Catholic-school bred, straight and narrow man who is occasionally embarrassed by bawdy humor. Chi is the dred-locked, heavily tattooed bass player for a hardrock band who spends way too much time on the tour bus perfecting his expletive-filled shock-humor. Suffice it to say that they do not understand each other.
For several hours during our drive through Nevada and Oregon, Gary's thespian side takes over. He becomes Chance. Cowboy Chance, Wrangler Chance, Chance the roper and rider, Chance the cardsharp. He develops an accent, a swagger, a backstory for Chance. Chance Novotny.
After we arrive in Boise, Chance only surfaces in private. The party starts, ends. Gary and Chi nod politely to each other. Gary leaves the next morning for Tennessee.
As I sit at my sister's table with my coffee, who comes strolling in through the back door in a cowboy hat, ranch style shirt, string tie, and with a respectable cow-rustler gait? Chet Cheng. The hard-rocker has morphed into his western persona, and drawls "Mornin". Ah'm Chet Cheng. Good to see ya'."
When I stop laughing. I tell him he must meet Chance sometime.
Fast forward a few months... my phone rings and I hear "Howdy! This is Chet! Is Chance around?"
Chet invites us to a barbeque at his home (vegetarian, or course) and they agree to attend as their western alter-egos.
A friendship is born.