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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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A Cache of Scattered Memories

Cache of scattered memories-a1d8682c
Dan Dodge

One’s excursion through life is filled with episodes comparable to a book, beginning with page one, adding more and more sheets until the words, ‘The End,’ emerge.

We often don’t pick the memory on which to dwell. Significant incidents are engraved forever. The lesser ones surface unexpectedly, similar to a cloud formation that catches the eye before changing shape, before disappearing. Whenever I hear Leroy Anderson’s Trumpeter’s Lullaby, it brings a remembrance of standing by a high school gym, when the notes played by a young trumpeter filled my ears with euphoria, enduring a lifetime. This was nothing dramatic or momentous, just pleasant to remember. 

*    *    *

Long ago, my mother and our oldest son, four years of age at the time, caused a bit of droll humor as well as irony. My father purchased a substantially sized semi-nude painting of a rather voluptuous female. He hung it in the middle of the living room wall, much to my mother’s objection.

“Harold, we have young grandchildren. That painting is totally inappropriate.” 

Even more of a concern to my mother was her four-year-old grandson’s obsession with staring at the undraped topless model with every visit. Mother would repeat her objection to my father, who would return her criticism with a sly smirk. Finally, she just had to get to the bottom of it all. The next time she witnessed her grandson gaping at the well-equipped lady, she questioned.

“Kirk, why do you stare at that painting so much”?

“Grandma, that artist never went once out of the lines.”

Kirk never went out of the lines with his coloring books. The painting stayed where my mother laughed as she repeated the tale.

Maybe my great, great, great-grandchildren might read the following with enjoyment. That would be nice.

*    *    *

It was a bitterly cold February morning, during the late ’70s, before the Internet gave us information instantly. I was the teacher of the gifted. One of the programs offered was called The Stock Market Competition. Many schools competed, challenging students to pick productive stocks. It was necessary to purchase ten copies of The New York Times on Monday to check each student’s stock progress. I picked up the papers from a kiosk, a freestanding booth on the curb containing newspapers. I would pay for two or three and take out ten – not very honest but economical.

It was so cold that I left my car running in front of a delicatessen with a kiosk, put some change in the proper slot and took out ten papers. I admit I shortchanged the stall, but that has little to do with what happened.

The papers were bulky, but, with freezing fingers, I managed to open the door and shove the newspapers on the passenger side. Off I sailed, heading for a busy school day. About two miles on the road, I took note of my surroundings. A totally unrecognizable item hung from the front mirror swinging back and forth, as if to say, ‘You idiot, this is not your car!’

I turned around, aiming for the delicatessen, hoping police searching for a stolen vehicle wouldn’t greet me. Luck was with me as my car was right where I left it. The owner must still have been in the deli, probably munching on a loaded bagel with cream cheese, sipping steaming hot coffee, utterly unaware of his car’s predicament. I parked, grabbed the newspapers, and took off. 

Two miles away, I noticed a paper bag on top of the papers. ‘Oh no, I took their lunch.’

One last time I changed direction, hoping the driver was a slow eater. I parked, threw the lunch in the car, humbly noting that the owner was never the wiser. The story followed me for years, as I could not resist telling the account when I arrived late for school.

I will never forget where I was when Kennedy was shot or the horror of 9/11, but I just love when amusing bits pop up to remind me life has served me a plateful of humorous recollections.

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