When Victor texted yesterday and said he would be in Jacksonville overnight, I knew we had to go. There was no other option. We must see Victor when we can. He lives in Boston now, so Victor sightings are rare. This was our chance, so we went. He offered to drive to us, but he had to head to Orlando today. Driving to High Springs would have put him terribly out of the way, so I told him we would meet him. I looked up breakfast restaurants in the outskirts of Jacksonville and picked one. A plan was set.
I got up at 6:15 this morning. Maybe that’s not early for you, but it is for me. We are homeschoolers and self-employed, remember. We are night owls, so life doesn’t usually start before 8:00 AM at our house. But for Victor, it was worth it. I got both kids up by 6:30. They got up willingly on the first call, because, after all, it was Victor. We drove an hour and a half to Jacksonville to discover that morning traffic stretches to the outskirts of the city on I-10. We finally took an exit close to the restaurant and were going to go the back way. By this time, the torrential rains had started, but it didn’t matter. It was Victor.
As we sat through the traffic light for the fifth time, I watched cars sloshing water all around us. In case you didn’t know it, the south side of Jacksonville apparently has a major drainage problem. The roads were more than ankle deep in water. It was a good thing we were driving a Suburban, because we had to get through. We had to see Victor. On the seventh cycle at the light, I said to Mr. Everything, “You know this isn’t normal, right? Normal people don’t get up on a Wednesday morning and drive an hour and a half to see a friend.” “I know,” he said. But, we both knew it was for Victor. Soon, we made it to the restaurant and were met with his smiling face and huge embrace. It was all worth it to see Victor.
I’m not exactly sure when Victor came into our lives. It was sometime in maybe 1997. I’m pretty sure the Beetle had already been born. Victor started attending our church, and somewhere along the way, we became friends. That Christmas, we hosted an ornament exchange for the young adults. Everyone was supposed to show up with a wrapped ornament to use for a white elephant gift exchange. Victor showed up 45 minutes late with a 1984 Disney ornament. It was probably one of the ugliest ornaments I had ever seen. It still hangs on my tree every year and has a place of honor on one of the front branches. After all, it is from Victor.
The next year, our group of friends decided to meet for lunch at Rose’s parents’ house. Victor was invited. He showed up with another guy and introduced us as his friend. We accepted this stranger, because, after all, any friend of Victor’s was a friend of ours. After lunch as we were chatting, I asked the man how long he and Victor had been friends. He looked at his watch and said, “About 2 hours.” And this is why we love Victor.
A few years after that, Victor blew out his knee at camp because he was playing too hard with the kids in the mud pit. When he had surgery and needed a place to stay, many of the single women at his church quickly spoke up and said he could stay with them. The preacher was not happy about that. Once when we saw him in Orlando, he got so excited playing tennis on the Wii with my kids that he popped the Goose in the head with his controller. That is still her main memory of him. He loves life and lives it. That’s another reason we love Victor.
Victor is unique, to say the least. He never, ever meets a stranger. He is popular beyond words. If you don’t believe me, just watch him walk into any church he’s ever attended. People line up like he is a rock star. I mean, we just got up early and survived a flood to drive an hour and a half to see him. Victor must be pretty special!
If you have a Victor in your life, you know what I mean. You’ll drive any length to see him. You’ll get up early. You’ll go out in the rain. Because, after all, it’s Victor.