Published: March 3 2004
Everyone has had a moment when things just go blank. It might be while someone is trying to remember where his or her car keys are. Or maybe it is while playing “Jeopardy” all alone on the couch in underwear.
A nutritionist once told me that I should eat more carrots to release some kind of something in my brain.
Recently, my forgetfulness was extremely embarrassing.
I bumped into Chris McWilliams, an old friend from high school, at a gas station. I’m not saying he was my best friend, but when he ran away from home in the 10th grade and had no where else to go, he came to my house.
I am still unclear as to why he came to my house, but when he found out that we didn’t have cable and our home was heated by a wood-burning stove (translation = we didn’t have heat) he high-tailed it home and worked out any problems that he and his parents had.
It had been eight years since we had seen each other. I knew he looked familiar, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember exactly WHY he looked familiar.
Of course, he recognized me right away and immediately said, “Jim, is that you?”
My mind began racing. Where would I know this person?
He looks familiar? Does he live in my neighborhood? Maybe I knew him in a past life. Yeah, that’s it.
“Hey bro’, how are you doing?” I said.
I was stumped at the pump and hoping that it would all come back to me.
“I haven’t seen you in forever, Jim. What are you up to these days?”
Now he was taunting me. He was using my name over and over again in some kind of mystic, medieval mind game
I know your name. I know your name. He was probably thinking.
“Oh, I am in school studying journalism and working on the student paper,” I said. “You?”
WHAT IS HIS NAME? IT’S ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE.
He apparently was very familiar with my name as evidenced by the obscene number of times he had repeated it in the three-minute conversation we had had thus far.
“Well, Jim, I am working for Southern Bell doing maintenance work.”
“Oh, okay. That sounds like an interesting job,” I said.
Maybe I can get through this conversation without saying his name. I looked at the pump. Hurry up pump.
As if he was tipped off by an unknown source, he said, “You don’t remember my name, do you?”
This is crazy. The audacity of this perfect stranger who apparently isn’t a perfect stranger at all. Who does he think he is? And for that matter, what does he think his name is?
“Of course I know your name, man,” I said.
“Then what is it?”
Was it that obvious, I thought? I started sweating. I tried my best to cover my tracks.
“Of course I uhhhh*errr* ummm* know your name,” I said again. “How could I forget your name? Okay. Okay. You got me. I’m going to need a lifeline.”
He didn’t like my humor.
He shook his head while I looked at the pump and pretended he wasn’t there.
I finished fueling my car, which by the way took just under four hours.
Sweat was streaming down my red face.
I’m sure the teller would wonder how filling up the gas tank resulted in my looking like a man who had just run around the block.
I paid for my gas and was walking out of the store rather hurriedly.
I heard my high school stranger, I mean friend, at the register saying something under his breath.
I was pushing the doorway open when all of a sudden, the planets lined up and I heard an audible voice say from above, “His name is Chris.”
Angels began singing, “HAL-LE-LU-JAH.”
I turned around and, like a professional wrestler, shouted, “YOUR NAME IS CHRIS.”
Everyone in the store looked in my direction, except for Chris. I think the customers were expecting me to run over and put him in the sleeper hold.
The cashier had that, “Am I getting robbed?” look on his face.
Chris just shook his head again disapprovingly, hopped in his Southern Bell maintenance van and drove off.
I looked at the cashier and asked, “You guys have any carrots?”