The Unforgettable Who?!
One of the benefits of being alive for so long, and moving around the country a bit, is the crazy collection of former acquaintances I’ve amassed. I was thinking about that recently and getting all wistful and as philosophical as my limited abilities will allow.
I was reminiscing about ex-girlfriends, old co-workers who once played a major part in my life, and close personal friends of the distant past, many of whom I haven’t spoken with in years or even decades. There’s also an even bigger group of folks whose lives briefly overlapped mine who I don’t remember at all. I realize that sounds harsh, but I’m certain it’s true. And I know I’ve played that part in other peoples’ lives as well: “Remember Jeff Kay?” “Who?! JFK? I mean, I know who he is, but I don’t remember him.” It’s nothing to be offended by, it’s just the way it goes.
There’s also a group of people who probably should fall into that Who?! category, but there are one or two ridiculous things about them (not always flattering) that makes them unforgettable. These are people who are presumably living full lives somewhere, complete with ups and downs and tricky plot twists worthy of a movie or a book, yet you and your friends know them only as “the guy who shit his pants that time in Social Studies.” Or something similar. I find that to be especially fascinating. Ya know?
Today I thought I’d tell you about several folks from my life who fall into that category – without naming names. Not that I can remember some of their names anyway. In any case, let’s jump right into it, shall we?
A kid at my grade school had one Spock ear. He supposedly held it that way for hours and days, until it became permanent. I’m unclear why he stopped with only one, possibly because his mother freaked out and there was “a scene?” I have no idea. He also sneezed one time and a great snot rope came out of one of his nostrils that extended almost to the floor. Then he reeled the entire length of it back in, with one powerful snort. Unforgettable!
There was a boy who played Little League baseball at the same time I did, and his head was so big they had to order a special batting helmet just for him. Later, his entire body, from the nose on down, appeared to be covered in pubes. I’m unclear if the two things were related.
During Junior High School gym class a kid was jumping on the trampoline and attempted to do a flip. Something went wrong and he landed chin-first and bit the tip of his tongue off. He jumped down, with a look of panic in his eyes, and ran outside with blood pouring from his mouth like Gene Simmons.
A co-worker at a convenience store in West Virginia told me he once saw The Who in concert, but it was a long time ago when they were known as The Guess Who. He also participated in a heated argument with another co-worker about who would win a fistfight between Van Halen and the Rolling Stones. The Stones had five people, you see, while Van Halen only had four. But age had to be taken into consideration, as well as the superior reach of Keith Richards.
A guy who I worked with in West Virginia, with a giant white-boy afro, would see a woman he thought was appealing and say, “Oh, man. What I wouldn’t give to beat off in her hair.” I heard him repeat that bizarre phrase several times, and it always made me feel creepy and skeeved out. I mean, what the hell?!
An older kid at my high school regularly wore a black t-shirt to class with white iron-on letters on the front that spelled out SUCK A ROD. As far as I know nobody in a position of authority ever said a word to him about it.
At a former job I was in the operations manager’s office, with some other folks, listening in to a national conference call. At a certain point a home office bigshot was talking, and another person – a guy I’d met a couple of times -- could suddenly be heard saying, “This guy’s an idiot. He couldn’t find his own ass with both hands.” He thought his phone was muted, and “resigned” a few days later.
During grade school each kid in the class was assigned a different animal to research and write a report about. The teacher gave us a long speech about not just copying information straight out of the encyclopedia, it had to be in our own words. Also, everybody would be required to read their completed reports to the class. One kid, not exactly a Rhodes Scholar candidate, got up there and began, “The beaver, pictured at left…”
A guy who worked at the same place as I did in Atlanta drove to a nearby sandwich shop for lunch one day, and walked back. When his workday was over, he went to the parking lot and his car wasn’t there. Freaking completely out, and causing a giant hysterical scene, he called the police and reported it stolen. Then he remembered driving to the restaurant, and the mockery never stopped. He left the company shortly thereafter.
A woman at a previous job was always highly professional and dressed to the nines. Although she was young, she carried herself like a seasoned executive. However, she drove a car that was such a piece of shit none of the doors would open from the outside. She waited until everybody had left for the day and climbed in through the hatchback.
A former co-worker in Atlanta brought some leftovers for lunch one day in a plastic margarine container. She popped it into the microwave, heated it up for a few minutes, and carried it to the table where some other people were seated. When she took the lid off, everybody saw that it wasn’t leftovers after all, it was a tub of butter from her fridge.
While working at a grocery store in North Carolina some of my co-workers were discussing a photograph on the cover of a tabloid newspaper that showed a man who only had a head, two arms and a torso. During this high-brow conversation one of them shouted, “No! A motherfucker can’t shit if he ain’t got no ass!”
I have more, many more. But it feels like I might be pushing my luck already. Again, these are people whose lives barely overlapped my own, and I probably wouldn’t remember them at all without the ridiculous stories that are attached to each in my mind.
Oh, it’s a rich tapestry of acquaintances, I tell you. And it keeps getting richer as the years stack up. I’ve known, and know, plenty of great folks: major and minor characters in my personal tragicomedy. But the bit players are to be cherished as well. As stated, I fully realize I’m a major character, minor character, bit player, and totally forgotten, as well. It’s just the way the world works, and the way our lives intersect. I might even be an Unforgettable Who?! with a few people, and I’d rather not think about that too much. Heh. It’s probably true, though.
Yes, getting older has its annoyances, like when those oily zitsters at the grocery store assume I can’t navigate a self-checkout because I’m a hundred years old in their eyes. But I’m sincerely thankful for the time that’s been allotted me to build up so many experiences, relationships and stories. Especially the stories. I love the stories. They’re unforgettable! However… just in case, I’m writing them all down. It feels like some of the unforgettable stuff is starting to be forgotten. Ugh! I don’t care for that at all. I can still ring up a freaking cucumber like a champion, though. I want to be clear about that. So, back off, you little shits!
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Until next month!