Out walking yesterday afternoon as Thelma and Louise were on a road trip to wasweissIch a suburb of gehtsdirnichtsan and walking the Heritage Trail to the Norwich Harbor my choices for the return leg of the hike were back up Washington Street, which is a state highway and very loud and highly trafficked or through the downtown district and up Union Street to Broadway and Chelsea Parade.
I have little talent so the only way I'll ever get to Broadway is walking on it, so off I went and was just passing Monsignor Kelly Park which is sort of opposite the Cathedral of Saint Patrick when an arm from the past reached out and grabbed me.
Actually, he had no choice. I had ear buds on and was listening to a Fountains of Wayne station I've created on Slacker radio (I wasn't yet to the point where I was singing along, loudly and undeterred that I know very few of the lyrics of anything played on the station) so I hadn't heard him at all. And he assured me he had been hailing me from across the street, the St. Pat's side, so to speak for at least a minute.
When my family and I arrived in Norwich two decades ago, he had been an ambassador of sorts explaining to many of the people both at work and in the neighborhood as to where we were all from and how we came to be here-assuring them all we spoke English and there was no reason to speak slowly or loudly (which I had actually enjoyed for a couple of weeks).
We were never friends-I don't make friends because I'm not willing to be a friend so I can't be surprised when no one reciprocates. This guy was the kind of person who uses your first name a lot, especially with others around and creeps you out a little by ladling on the pseudo bonhomie just a tad thick and too often.
Same thing yesterday-lots of how you've been and very little explanation of where he has been for the better part of a decade and a half. That's actually a guess-I don't know how long he was gone before I realized I hadn't been seeing him. As you can surmise it left a huge hole in my life. Truth to tell, I had trouble recalling his name and was working hard to NOT speak in such a manner that would require using it.
I realized with his palaver about 'going to Mass with the family' that I recalled a very different woman than the stunt double with two very small (maybe six, maybe not, year olds) youngsters standing in front of the cathedral. In the old days, my evil twin Skippy would have made this difficult but no more. He seemed to read my eyes if not my mind as he rushed to explain he and D-- had "gotten together" not long after his marriage had gone south (I'm not suggesting cause and effect; I don't care enough) and he was now living back in the area.
I'm thinking it had something to do with the heat, or the length of the walk or just because I'm way too old to make happy talk with mopes I don't remember, but I asked him if his divorce didn't keep him from taking Communion (something as an altar boy trainee we spent hours discussing) and he hurriedly reassured me he was 'a Catholic in good standing.' I told him I hadn't realized scorecards were being issued and wasn't even surprised that now he wanted to be anywhere which didn't include me.
I made it a point to look at my watch while pointing to the cathedral spire suggesting he shouldn't keep the Pope waiting and smiled as he assured me we really do need to get together while making absolutely no effort to make assure that would ever happen as he ran across the street to his 2.0 family to catch the Saturday matinee in the big room. All I had been was a vamp for time. The whole exchange had lasted about three minutes. I'd put the song I was listening to on pause instead of stopping it. It was like I never left.