Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Hazelblackberry: Husker du?

Dear Nick

A little while ago I had my Own Personal Big Chill Moment. I was at a funeral and caught up with old school friends I haven't seen in years. Sure enough, the conversation soon turned to all these other people we used to go to high school with (apparently we did, I couldn't remember any of them) and what they were up to now. My participation in this lively exchange was limited due to my shocking memory.

Someone or other: "Remember X?"
Me: "No."
Someone else: "No, surely you must."
Me: "No."
Yet another: "No, really, remember him? Tall, skinny, dark hair, pale skin."
Me: "Oh wait. Okay, was he the guy that one time I got partnered with in dancing and yeah he was really skinny because dancing with him it was like holding onto a dried up leaf. There was nothing to him! Would that be the guy?"
Everyone else: Uneasy silence.

And so the long afternoon wore on. You know, it WAS interesting to hear all about the lives of people you can't remember, because you're sure they're all decent people and so it's nice to know they're doing well. They must be decent people. Because you don't remember them. Because the people you remember, the ones SEARED on to your brain, are the ones you couldn't stand. It seemed a little wrong at the funeral of such a lovely and loving girl, but I think we all enjoyed indulging ourselves in a few spiteful stories too. Like the story of Goldilocks being confronted by one of our more, er, dramatic teachers, Ganja Trip. Ganja Trip had caught Goldilocks doing something and demanded to know what was going on. Goldilocks merely smiled sweetly and said that nothing was going on. Then Ganja Trip let her have it. "I see you Goldilocks," she said, "I see you out in the playground. Oh you're a pretty girl, aren't you, Goldilocks? You're like a young, fresh apple - all sweet and rosy on the outside." - up to this point her voice had been calm and menacing, but as she finished she got quite hysterical - "But like that deceptive apple, on the inside YOU ARE ROTTEN TO THE CORE!!!"

Goldilocks blanched. It was quite a sight.

And it shows how times have changed. We all thought this was a hoot. I remember one lad looking at Ganja Trip in frank admiration and there was a sense that the class was on the edge of applause. Nowadays the poor woman would probably be arrested and we'd all be put through intensive trauma counselling until we broke down and admitted how horrifying the whole episode had been.

One incident put the accuracy of all this reminiscing into perspective. At one point at the funeral I was bailed up by The Gatekeeper, an old acquaintance who seems to remember anyone he ever came into contact with ever, plus their grandmothers' birthdays, who wanted to confirm some facts and figures about my life.

"So, hb," asked The Gatekeeper, "How old are your kids?"
"Er, they're pretty young, Gatekeeper."
"Really, how young?"
"So young as to be virtually non-existent."

Blank look.

"Gatekeeper, I don't have any children."

Long pause.

"Really? Are you sure? Because I heard you had a couple."

As you can imagine, this revelation caused Grumpy and I to turn the house upside down that night in search of forgotten - and no doubt by now feral - infants who might be well and truly ready for a feed and possibly a nappy change.

But here's the amazing thing, Nick. I couldn't remember dozens of these names being flung around - and I even went home and dug out my old school mags and browsed through the photos, trying to prompt my memory and still I stayed mostly blank. But then a couple of days ago I was walking into my local Supa Valu (which I always think should be written SUUUPA! Valu) and as I walked in noticed a chap at one of the counters and thought to myself, "Well, goodness me, there's Maxi Priest."

Then I stopped dead. I haven't seen Maxi Priest since 1985 (I rang The Antiquer to confirm this) and most certainly wouldn't even have thought of him since then either. Then I walk into my corner store, see him and his name comes bubbling up, just like that. By the time I'd turned around he'd gone. I'm not sure I would have said anything to him anyway (once home, however, I did look him up in the phone book, in my usual creepy stalker-ish way, to see how far away from me he lived and to figure out if I might be bumping into him again, so I could say hello and inquire as to his interest in engaging in a red-hot affair followed by me keeping a silent vigil outside his front door night after night for oh, say, five years?). In high school, he seemed a decent guy but somehow aloof. He left to finish school at a fancy-pants establishment and at the time I heard he was taking up A Vocation in the Church. Clearly this didn't pan out, if it was even remotely true in the first place, as The Antiquer tells me he saw him on Rotto a couple of years later behaving in a manner unbecoming of a man of the cloth.

Though what that means these days...your guess is as good as mine.

Until next time, Nick.


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