Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Who's That Guy?

I have a savant-like memory for dates from long ago. As in, if you invited me to your wedding in 1972, 1989, 2002, whenever, I can probably tell you the date.  I don't know how it works; dates and days just stick in my mind, taking up space that should be used for important things. 

Faces, sort of. I usually have some idea who people are when they strut up to me and start lipflapping.  Some idea.

Names, forget it. I mean, I forget it.  My secret is, if you're a guy and you come up to me in line at the Credit Union and I can't think of your name, I can get away with "Hey, buddy boy!  How you doin'?"

If you're a female, the appellation "buddy boy" hardly seems to fit, and since only Frank Sinatra could get away with its distaff equivalent ("Chickie Baby"), I am out of luck. Sometimes I will just guess a series of female names. Pro tip:  "Thelma" hasn't been right since 1957.

So Peggy (whose name never escapes me) and I were at the grocery not long ago and a guy about my age started sidling up to me.  There are two kinds of Supermarket Sidles:  a) when a woman of diminutive height is about to ask me to reach something on the very back of the very top shelf (Sunsweet Prune Juice and Special K cereal are always way back there) and b) when some dude thinks he knows me.    

"Hey there!" he said.  "How have you been?  Did you retire yet?" At this point, I realize he does not know me well, because from lifelong boon companion to the guy who made my pizza the other night, everyone I come in contact with has heard about my glorious retirement over and over and over again.  But I admitted to retiring four years ago and he gradually lost all the steam in his conversation, like a fully loaded beer truck trying to climb a steep hill from a dead start.  As my answers became more puzzling to him, he finally raised one eyebrow and said, "You ARE Professor _____ ______ from Towson University, aren't you?"

"Ha ha ha," exclaimed Peggy and I.  As I thought how odd it would be to see a college professor dressed in my standard Brick Heck attire (t shirt and cargos), I explained to the blushing stranger that I was not the person he took me to be, and I made note of the prof's name.

Image result for axl heck
And when I got home I googled the guy and he has his own web page and all.  Very upscale, you know. But outside of being a fellow graying 60-something with glasses and a slightly smirky grin, the guy looked about as much like me as I look like Axl Heck, and that ain't much.

Sometimes I think that life gives us retirement so we can spend four or five hours wondering why a total stranger would confuse you with someone to whom you bear no resemblance at all.

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