When I was home for Christmas, I got a call from a guy who used to live next to me. Back then, we used to be the best of friends.
So far it sounds like a good phone call, except that I left out one little detail. We used to be the best of friends -- when I was four years old. Then, I moved away. Sure, we occasionally saw each other during summers after that. I think we even had lunch when I was a senior in high school, but that's about it.
I really don't remember him well. I don't remember most of my early childhood. I'm an only child, it was largely boring, and I've blacked it out. About all I do remember from this period is that once a screen door closed on my fingers and it hurt. Hurt like hell!
According to my Dad, we used to spend hours driving around Big Wheel toy trucks. So the memory of screen doors slamming on my fingers and big wheel trucks is all we have. . . . And wait. Just now for some reason painted rocks jumped up from the nether regions of my memory.
"Wow! Great to see you. Remember those painted rocks we got that day we were driving around on big wheel trucks right after my fingers got slammed in the screen door which incidentally hurt like hell?"
We met for lunch, because he asked and well what do you say to get out of such a thing? I suppose I shouldn't sound so grumpy, but it's a little eerie when someone you don't really remember suddenly wants to be your best friend.
I knew it would be a weird afternoon from the beginning. He came out, and I thought, "Yeah, he kind of looks familiar." I extended my hand to shake his, but he instantly dismissed that notion and gave me a big friendly hug. You have to understand something. I'm not entirely opposed to hugs. It's just that I don't generally hug men. I'm not homophobic. I don't really hug my Dad either. I'm just an uptight New Englander, and here was this guy I hadn't seen for years hugging me. Somehow, I managed not to run away.
Then came lunch. This was a little better. The food was good and there was no hugging, although now I started to feel like a geek. Early on, he asked if I had a girlfriend, and I had to say no. A few minutes later, he asked, "So did you ever like experiment with drugs in college?" The answer was no. Ten minutes later, he asked, "So have you ever gone to strip clubs at all?" Again, I had to say no. It was horrible. The least he could have done was warn me on the phone about all this. Then, the night before I could have gotten high and gone to a strip club. Anything to avoid those awkward pauses.
After lunch, we ended up at the Audobon Society Wildlife Sanctuary. I still don't know how. I think some exhibit about something I had no interest in whatsoever was being held there. He opened up the newspaper at the restaurant.
"Hey, look, there's this exhibit at the Audobon Society entitled Something Joe Has No Interest In Whatsoever. Do you want to see it, Joe?"
"Yeah sure. That sounds like fun."
Well, honestly, what do you say? Besides, I had already given up on the afternoon. I knew things would be weird, and it didn't really matter how weird they got.
It turns out that Something I Had No Interest In Whatsoever had been postponed until the next week and instead we walked around the grounds reminiscing. I do feel horrible for writing this, I confess. He was a nice enough person, and I suppose I remember a few good times we had around age eight. But that was a long time ago, and I've moved on. I just hope he didn't really mean it when he said that he'd check out my web page.
And now it's time for the ironic yet completely true punch line to bring the column home. Are you ready? As we were leaving the restaurant, he ran into a classmate from high school. They had a pleasant conversation for about a minute, but then in the parking lot he turns to me with a very earnest look. "Wow. I don't even really remember him. Isn't it weird when you run into someone who remembers you, but you don't really remember them?"
"Yeah . . . . That is weird."
Submitted By: Anonymous
Jun 29, 1998 13:41