With the possible exception of Karl Rove, I must be the stupidest, most clueless man in the United States. Belay that, mates, I am the stupidest, most clueless man on the Planet Earth!
Yesterday, being Thanksgiving, I had the day off from work, and after feasting on more calories than the average Sudanese child consumes in an entire decade, I decided to go to the local multi-plex cinema at the mall to see the new Lincoln movie.
I share a unique connection with Old Abe. Not only was I born on his birthday, February 12th, I was named after him.
Oh yes the hell I was too!
Abraham Lincoln was named on February 12, 1809. I was named on February 12, 1951-considerably after he was. Therefore, you ass-wipe, I was named after Lincoln!
But this story isn't about Lincoln; this is about how stupid and clueless I am.
Anyway, I figured there wouldn't be many businesses open yet since Black Friday wasn't supposed to kick off until midnight; but I was wrong.
Being wrong is what I do best.
The mall parking lot was glutted with angry, post glut gluttons eager to line up with those already camping out in front of Best Buy, J. C. Penny, and Macy's. They were a ragged bunch that looked dangerously close to commencing upon all-out rioting. Fist fights were as common as the too-tight tube-tops on the fat women at Wal-Mart (sorry, I've wanted to use that line for years but never had a better opportunity till just now).
So I carefully negotiated the mob and got in line to buy my movie ticket early so I could sneak outside and hide behind a box elder hedge and sneak a smoke (the rumor that I was smoking pot has yet to be established as a fact!).
Anyway, I was sitting behind the hedge, minding my own business, not bothering a damned soul, when I saw a woman leave the mall entrance struggling to carry several packages and, at the same time, keep three or four boisterous children in tow.
I felt no particular anxiety for her; she should have known better than try such a feat on Thanksgiving Day, of all days. But I watched her anyway because she was a good looking lady, and good looking ladies have a way of catching my aging eye.
As she got nearer to her car, I did have some concerns; it was only twenty or so yards from my hiding place, and I worried she might smell my smoking materials, so I put out the roach, err, cigarette butt. I was thinking about making an exit from the lot because the kids she was with were running in my direction and I had no desire to be "the guy caught hiding in the bushes by a bunch of kids," if you get my drift.
I've found it to be imprudent to get caught hiding in bushes by children-or husbands.
Hiding in bushes anywhere (especially outside bedroom windows) is frowned upon in polite society, although I do not know why. If men were not meant to hide behind bushes, why would God have invented them in the first damned place?
But I digress.
The woman dropped several of her packages and two bags she was carrying. The bags were filled with do-dads and other stuff, mostly Christmas ornaments. There were balls, or round objects rolling through the parking lot, and the frustrated woman (she was really good looking, did I mention that?) began to cry.
Well, shit; I guess I was the only Boy Scout in the damned parking lot who wasn't selling hotdogs to raise money for some damned thing or the other; either way, I was the only Boy Scout in a position "to help other people at all times," so I went to the lady's aid.
I adroitly stepped around the end of the box elders without anyone noticing I had been hiding therein, and walked quickly to the woman and offered to help her pick up the spilled ornaments and get them back into the bag. The woman (about my age I thought, but in far better shape than most women of her age) smiled at me through her tears and gratefully accepted my offer of help.
I thought the woman looked familiar to me, yet I did not utter the lamest line in all of social intercourse: "Haven't we met before?" In retrospect, I should have.
She went to round up the scattered children while I rounded up the fugitive Christmas stuff. By the time I had everything back in her bag, she had the kids back in tow, and together we all got the packages in her van without further complications.
Once she had the kids in the van, all strapped in, she came around to the back of the van where I was standing. She thanked me as she took my hand in hers. I was a bit embarrassed that she was staring at me so intently.
She asked me my name, and I told her. For a minute, she tilted her head and with a wistful sigh she said, "I used to know a boy by that name. We went to school together forty some years ago. I was madly in love with him. I would have done anything he asked, but he never did…ask I mean."
I asked her what had happened to the boy, and she told me, "He went away to Vietnam, and I never heard from him again. I heard he might have died, but I don't know. I'd give anything to see him again." With that, she was in her van and she drove off while I stood there.
THEN IT HIT ME!!! The woman was none other than Connie Sue Pennington, a girl I'd dated for two weeks back in the fall of 1969. I'd been madly in love with her, but too frightened of her good looks and social status to ever have tried anything at all sexual with her. I remember we did swap spit for a couple of hours one Spring night in the back seat of my dad's 59 Ford Fairlane.
Damn, she was hot (and still looks damned hot to me today). We might have made a go of it except for the fact that her father didn't think I was good enough for her and made her stop seeing me.
And there she went; off to who knows where, wishing she knew whether or not I got back from Vietnam. AND STILL WAITING TO WELCOME ME HOME!
And now, back home this morning, as I frantically search every phone book, every Facebook or Classmates search engine, I am beginning to think she did know it was me-and that God had just given me another opportunity-as had she--yet I just stood there, mute, stupid, and clueless while yet another opportunity at happiness evaporated like the smoke from her van's tail pipe.
But I was able to write this entire sad story without once using the word "fuck." You have to take your victories where you can, I guess.