There are some things in life that you just don’t expect. One of those things happened to me today.

For those of you who don’t now, I play saxophone. Several people have told me that I play quite well, but I’m a pessimist and just plain like to criticize myself. I just can’t believe them. It has helped me grow in many respects–though I should still practice much more than I do.

This all started at the Hoover Jazz Festival last year. There was a mall nearby and some friends and I decided that we should go. I ended up being late for the jazz combo’s warm up (which was scheduled about an hour before we had to play, which I didn’t realize). I remember running and running from the mall back to the Festival, feeling like such an idiot. But things panned out differently than I could have foreseen.

Being that I was late, several people were out looking for me. One of these was Sami’s uncle Jerry. He told me that he “walked around saying ‘Ben Oakes, Ben Oakes’” while looking. Of course, I showed up, never saw him (as far as I can remember), and went on to play. He was in the audience and was impressed with my ability (and other’s, I’m sure). So impressed, in fact, that he decided to use my name as a sobriquet when singing karaoke. Apparently, he sings this somewhat often.

I was informed of this while working one day by Sami and her mother. It was not something that you hear every day, so it got filed away into my brain. “Wow,” I thought. It’s interesting how one can affect people without really trying.

After work today, I got a phone call. It was Sami saying that her uncle was in town and wanted to get his picture taken with Ben Oakes. I said that I would (there wasn’t much else that I was doing) and showed up about twenty minutes later. By sheer chance we were wearing almost the same shirt and pants. Allegedly, he recognized me while driving home from the grocery store. Yes, several people told me to worry because I had a stalker (He lives in Illinois; I don’t think I’ll have to worry). They took the picture with a digital camera; it will be as soon as they send me a copy.

He turned out to be a pretty cool guy. We talked for a litte while and it seemed like we had several things in common (minus the name). His wife Mel (at least I think that it was his wife–there were too many people there that I didn’t know) is into computers, gladly, so I’ll have a picture soon. She suggested that we email back and forth, which I would be glad to do. Next time I visit my grandmother in Illinois, I might have to take a side trip.

I ended up walking away with more than just a interesting story. He’s in a rock band and felt obligated to give me one of their CD‘s. It was professionally printed and recorded too. This is not what I was expecting to do tonight, but I’m certainly not complaining.

If anyone else wants to join the “Ben Oakes Fan Club,” leave a comment to this article and I’ll put you in contact with Jerry. I’ll be signing pictures all week.