For those of you who may be wondering, who may be literally on the edge of your seats with wonder wonder wonder: No, my high school prom date did not win election to the Florida State House.
(For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll refer you to this blog’s entry for July 16 titled Indecision 2012. Take a look, it’s a real chuckle-fest.)
I know, the election was ages ago and I should have filled you in sooner on these developments, but it quite honestly slipped my mind until earlier this week when I was happily strolling through the aisles of Trader Joe’s and I (almost!) bumped into someone from my high school. No, not the prom date (phew). It was a girl (woman? Girl?) I went to school with for countless sessions – elementary to middle to high – but didn’t really know all that well. She popped up again years later because, in an interesting twist, she married the Bestie’s best friend from childhood. Apparently, she and the hubby are very active in the La Leche League (that’s people who are super into breastfeeding, by the by), a small fact that, in my mind, reconciled nicely with the long braid that hung down her back as she perused frozen ethnic fare on Aisle 5. God, I knew this Trader Joe’s was going to be a problem. (So long, most delicious English muffins ever.)
This is all to say that returning to your hometown after being away for the better part of twenty years can be a bit like navigating a field of landmines. At any minute, you could run into someone you knew when. Which would be fine, I’m guessing, if you were into that sort of thing. My problem? I don’t seem to have a clear recollection of most of the below the title actors from my distant past. Seriously. Which is a bit disconcerting because, as anyone who knows me well can attest, I pride myself on my laser sharp memory – the ability to recall important and not so important dates and conversations and occasions big and small with ease. My laser sharp memory and my perfect skin. But, for some reason, one of these sources of pride seems to fail me when it comes to Years 0-18 (and it’s not the perfect skin folks, it’s not). Which means, on those occasions when I don’t manage to duck into Aisle 6 quickly enough (the wine aisle, as luck and 2 Buck Chuck would have it), I find myself in the awkward position of having a conversation with someone who seems to know me pretty well even if I don’t know them much at all. Uncomfortable, for sure.
So far, this has happened to me in the parking lot at Target, at the place where MJR takes her stuff on wheels for repairs, and in the front yard of my childhood home. Yes, my own front yard. Landmines, people. This town is silly with landmines.
What to do, what to do, what to do. I’ve thought about my options, which range from becoming a complete shut in (don’t think I’m not seriously considering it) to explaining that my lack of recognition when people say things like “We sat next to each other from Grades 1-5 at Stephen Foster Elementary” or “I used to babysit you and your brother” stems from selective memory loss associated with a plane crash in the Andes I survived when I was nineteen (plausible, right?) to, well, just faking it.
I’ve settled on the last one for the time being and it seems to be working. Want to know a little secret about people – and yes, I’m generalizing all people here? Whether you’ve seen them on and off every day for most of your life or you’re just running into them now after being away for the better part of twenty years, all you need to do to get through any awkward social situation is keep them talking about themselves. Smile, ask questions, nod your head a lot. They’ll never suspect a thing.
And no, Trader Joe’s doesn’t deliver. I’ve already checked.