My sister called this afternoon and, as usual, we had a delightful chat. After we checked on the well-being of each other's families, she mentioned a bit of news that set my mind off on a six-degrees-of-separation tangent.
This photo was taken in my mother's home on my first wedding day. That's 18-year-old me at center right, holding a cup of lime sherbet/ginger ale punch, and that's the man I'd just married with his back to the camera.
The news my sister gave me in passing today was that the man at left in the photo, in the background, died recently. This was my husband's best man, his former boss, who was an East Texas automobile dealer. In fact, it hadn't been in our plans, but we ended up spending our wedding night at this man's fishing camp -- along with him and his entire family. (If that sounds weird to you, I assure you it felt even stranger to me.)
I didn't know this man well, although we'd socialized with him and his wife a number of times. They were in their mid-thirties and I was half their age. I didn't have a lot in common with them. Often, when we visited them, I managed to avoid adult conversation by calling on my babysitting experience and entertaining their children until it was time to leave. All of my visits with them were before the marriage. We moved out of town right after the wedding, and I don't remember if I ever saw any of them again.
Some years (and another husband) later, I was reminded of this man when I learned that his daughter had moved to Atlanta, Georgia and had just won the title of "Miss Georgia." I saw her on TV and was horrified to realize I was old enough to say truthfully that I once piggybacked a Miss USA contestant. She had grown up to be a beautiful woman. Ted Turner liked her enough to give her her own talk show when CNN was in its early days.
For those of you checking out the six-degrees-of-separation thing, there's me, then the pageant queen I piggybacked, then Ted Turner. That's just two degrees. If we take it one degree further, Ted Turner married Jane Fonda -- who, coincidentally, is my eighth cousin, twice removed. (Yes, I'll admit it: I'm distantly related to -- but separated by only three degrees from -- Hanoi Jane.)
Anyway, back to the immediate story:
According to what my sister told me and what I've read on the Internet since her phone call, this man who was best man at my first wedding became somewhat politically active in the years after we left there. One of his good political friends was Charlie Wilson, the flamboyant Texas congressman who is the subject of Charlie Wilson’s War, a book by George Crile. I haven't read the book yet, but after reading this excerpt and finding on page 10 the names of my husband's best man and his daughter, I definitely will.
The book has been made into a movie that's due out this month. I saw an Oprah show about the movie and was interested in seeing it even before I discovered the connection. It has a great cast, including Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and (you guessed it, Kim) Philip Seymour Hoffman.
So, here we go: First there's me, then there's my husband's best man, then there's Charlie Wilson, then there's Tom Hanks. That's four degrees. But wait; it gets better.
Tom Hanks did another movie you may remember called Forrest Gump. Holly, better known to some bloggers as CreekHiker, worked on that movie. Isn't that cool? Holly (in Los Angeles) and I (in Louisiana) were separated by only five degrees long before we ever heard of each other.
(Sigh.) I love this game.