Before Coffee: Cobblestone

July 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

Most people have a Memory Lane they can stroll down in the quiet, reflective moments, or when they’re out for drinks with old friends.

I do not have that, for the most part. My Memory Lane is blocked off by concrete dividers and signs warning ROAD CLOSED and BRIDGE OUT and THERE ARE MONSTERS IN THE MISTS OF TIME.

There are reasons my memory is so full of holes. To say I was unhealthy in high school is to say the Grand Canyon’s a nice little hole in the ground. I had a digestive disorder combined with a terrible doctor who, when I didn’t respond to the sulfa drugs and steroids, just kept increasing the dosage. Ever seen a 98-pound rage monster? If you went to high school with me, you did.

Either the massive steroid load or the malnourishment or the combination left me with a mostly blank, gray space where my high school and even college years should be. Bridge out, road closed.

If I ignore the signs and scrabble over the barricades, what I find is a crumbling alleyway that’s more pothole than lane. The gutters remain overflowing with bad memories, because the awful and embarrassing things I did (or that were done to me) stick like dogshit on my shoe.

But every now and then, I find a cobblestone still intact. I found one this morning, driving to work. Just a fragment, really, but a good one.

At some point in high school, we did the musical Camelot. I can’t recall if it was my sophomore or junior year, but I—at 98 pounds, mind you—thought it would be a good idea to try out for the role of Lancelot. I didn’t get it, of course, but I did land in the chorus. We had actual heavy steel swords and I got to stage fight with one. But I also had to wear a dance belt and leotards.

If there’s any justice in the world, all photos of me in that costume have been destroyed.

Rehearsals often ran late, and my folks asked me if someone in the cast could give me a ride home afterward. I didn’t really know anyone in the cast, but there was a guy who knew my little brother, and we’d become sorta friends, so I asked him and he said it was no problem.

I can’t remember his name or what kind of car he had. I think his name was also David, and I think he drove one of those terrible mid-70s Mustangs, and it may have once been white but by then was mostly dirt and rust. Maybe-David was tall and had dark hair. All the men in the cast had to grow a beard (if they could; I could not, much to my chagrin), and maybe-David’s was kind of wispy. I think he played guitar.

What I do remember—the cobblestone fragment that popped up this morning—is that one night, as he was driving, he steered with his knee while he cupped both hands around the end of a cigarette to light it. I’d never seen anyone do that before, and I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever.

Hey, I led a sheltered life, and I was easily impressed.

I don’t remember anything else about maybe-David, but he was one of the few people outside my small circle of friends who was nice to me, and he could drive with his knee.

Why he came to mind on my drive to work, I have no idea. But I hope he’s out there, still as cool as I remember him.

cool bridge

Photo: Tony Webster




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