Thursday, September 28, 2006

But on the bright side

When I was a small boy, and I do mean small... I'd say I was about seven. Geez, about as old as my oldest son. The time of starting to remember. It was my first exposure to music, and my intense attachment to a song. More actually. You have to be an old bastard to remember, or you just like the golden oldies, but this is when I first heard Rhinestone Cowboy. My uncle, who really isn't my uncle because he was the brother of my then step-mother--the beater just in case you're wondering--is only a couple years older than me. He had long brown hair that a mop-head like myself could really appreciate. The kind of hair that fit right in with the upcoming seventies fad of feathering and blow drying. Think Shawn Cassidy. If you don't know who I'm talking about, then I'll say currently he is the creator of the series Invasion--may it rest in peace. But back in those days he was a famous singer for about one year, and the actor who played opposite Parker Stevenson in the Hardy Boys. If you don't know who Parker is, then I'll say he married Kirstie Alley. If you don't know who she is, then turn the page already, or look it up. I'm tired of typing about it.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Anway, Mark, my uncle, had a record player. Don't make me explain what one of those is. Try Wikipedia. Anway, he had a stack of 45's. Amongst those was of course the Rhinestone Cowboy. Also War's Why Can't We Be Friends, Captain and Tennille's Love Will Keep Us Together, and a song that may have been called Run Joey Run, judging by how many times that phrase was repeated.

You can see that I have a pretty vivid memory of this time. I found out this weekend, at the wedding reception, that Mark also remembers this very well. At the mass preceding the ceremony, I saw a middle-aged man who looked vaguely familiar. Two pews ahead of me, he knelt facing forward, then turned to whisper to an elegant woman next to him, revealing his sharp profile. His once proud hair had thinned and eclipsed back, much like that of his brothers. But the eyes. I knew it was him.

Outside, I walked up to him to introduce myself, as I hadn't seen him since that day so long ago. Before I said anything, he reached out with his hand and said, "Scott! It's Mark."

"You didn't have to say Mark, I still recognize you. God, how long has it been?" even though I really knew.

His manner was slow and unsure. Meek. Beaten. This wasn't the guy I remembered. When we were kids, he was a head and a half taller than me. Now it was just the opposite. I resisted the urge to hug him like a son and tell him that everything is going to be ok. Then I felt a surge of rage at the unfairness of life, of divorce and frustrated expectation. This man before me would have been my friend.

He introduced me to his fiance, a divorcee like himself. Mark was married for around ten years, until one day his wife left him, taking their child with her. The sadness in his voice rattled me. "She surprised you by leaving?"

He could only nod. "But," he managed, "I finally won joint custody of my son."

I could go on and on. We reminisced about those old records, something I thought that only I would remember. Back then I looked up to him, and so I reasoned, why would he even recall? But he did. Who else beside myself have I underestimated in my life?

When I said my final goodbye, I offered my hospitality should he ever come to Boston, assuring him that we have the accommodations if he and his wife (and son!) want to visit sometime.

Sometimes I think my heart is too big. There are so many people I miss, so many that I don't even remember that I miss, people gone by and tucked away in a secret place. Perhaps one day it will become too painful. Even though it can hurt, those memories keep me alive and hopeful that life can be truly wonderful.

8 comments:

Bernita said...

I can only say "Oh, Scott..." because we each bear our secret sorrows.
Wonder sometimes if the Libra efect is responsible.

Jaye Wells said...

One hopes that he walked away from that exchanged a little happier.

Also, what? No Muskrat Love?

Scott said...

Bernita - Ah, so you read my comment on Jayes Blahg then? Yes, I am a libra, but I don't put much stock in it.

Jaye - I hope you're right. Muskrat Love was just a bit further in the future. I believe Love Will Keep Us Together was C&T's first big hit, and I only had the single. Come to think of it, I wonder what song was on the flip side.

Kathleen said...

I hope he keeps in touch with you, and I hope his new wife helps by supporting him and he's able to get past his meek and weakened state. So sad what people do to each other.

magnetbabe said...

I loved your last paragraph and it really resonated with me. I'm glad you had that encounter with Mark, I"m sure he's glad too.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Ah Yes.

Rhinestone Cowboy.

I used to do this at karaoke. The old guys loved it. The rude boys, did not.

It's always nice to run into someone this way. It doesn't happen often enough to me.

Scott said...

Kat - Maybe I'll get his email and send out a feeler.

Nat - Nice that you can "hear" me.

Toast - Yeah, I'd sing right along with you. Maybe someday...

Jada's Gigi said...

How nice to run into him...
funny what others remember of the same incident...
maybe we all have these sort of memories tucked away inside to be quickened by a chance encounter one day...