Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time Future and Time Past

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.

Don't worry if you avoid contact with me at the grocery store.
I am trying to avoid you too. It ain't personal.
Grocery stores are interesting places sometimes, especially around the holidays. The holidays seem to be a rather brutal time of year no matter what horror or ongoing mess is happening. I suppose we think that we get some divine pass because it's Turkey or Santa time. The holidays only serve to underscore the messes that are our lives. C'est la vie.

First, I passed a friend's wife. She did the double-take and then smiled. I know about some of her personal problems she's been suffering through, so I left the exchange at that. The next time I passed her, I guess we skipped the hellos and decided not to recognize one another. The mask was gone-the smile was replaced by an aged, haunted look. Age she no doubt saw on my face as well.Worries are demons we carry on our backs, silently trying to kill us if we let them. Experiencing some rather intense ones of my own, I recognized the pain. Best to respect it with distance.

Then, making my usual backtracking for a forgotten item, I saw a guy that used to sing at the church where once I worked. I did avoid him. So sorry. He's the nicest guy you'd ever meet, but I didn't feel like going through the exchange.

Then I ran into an old junior high friend. People do that natural double-take when they recognize you, but not sure if taking the time to chat with you is worth it. Confession: I have avoided some really nice people because I want to get the hell out of the store as quickly as possible.

I saw my old friend, Donny. I went to school with him in junior high and at that time, we were inseparable mates. He did that "friend or foe?" double-take. I get to talk to him so rarely that I never do a true avoid with him.

We exchanged the usual pleasantries-which seems to me to be a test of residual friendliness and compatibility. A kind of tolerance test for future exchanges.

"I thought about you the other day, " I told him, "I remember how my step-dad and your dad used to drive us to school. I remember shivering those cold mornings." His dad worked at a Cadillac dealership and those leather seats were like trying to snuggle an ice block. Both of us have since lost those important figures in our life. He smiled widely. Like I said, we were once thick as thieves.

"I thought about you the other day," he countered. "A friend of mine recently closed out an estate of one of your neighbors. Remember Mrs. __ and how we used to torture her?" Indeed I do. "She recently died at the age of 90. She had one niece and she left her two million dollars. Two million dollars!" We both marveled at that. She lived almost nun-like: frugal, quiet, never loud or ostentatious. Who knew she was loaded?

One memory serves up another. They are, after all, chain links in a fence. She was our neighbor directly across from us. One curious summer, we noticed a man in a brown car circling around and around the block. He'd turn on his dome light and wave at her upper bedroom window. Not very subtle if you're going to have an affair and especially if you don't want monstrous adolescents taking a great interest in your love life.

 Which we did. Big time.

We even went up to her door and sincerely told her that there was man circling the block, looking at her house each time. She stumbled to find the right words the insincere concerns of these callous youths and then it came, "He won't harm anyone. He's alright." Screw that, lady. We want to know all about your love life. We are the white devils with little or no moral compass. God help us.

Ions have passed since Donny and I spent those unburdened days as school lads where our greatest concern was the lunch time race to get in line at Burger Chef or Long John Silvers before our hungry classmates. Or whether or not a girl might like us.

So, if you see me in the grocery store, I might do an avoid. Don't take it personal. Alright?

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