Sometimes I’m a dumbass…
I went to Abbey Road on the River yesterday, with my sister, Julia, and our friends, Anita and Kerri. The weather was perfect and we were just hanging out on the Belvedere, watching all the Beatles tribute bands. There were early Beatles, with their original Beatles haircuts and dark suits and ties – so adorable. And Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart’s Club Beatles, with their colorful clothes and long hair. Naturally, the bands play – yes, Beatles music. I get real annoyed when they don’t – after all, I love Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix as much as anybody, but there’s a time and a place for everything.
Because we go to Abbey Road every year, we have traditions. Routines. Possibly even rituals. We set up our chairs and blanket on the same lawn area of the Belvedere, trying to maximize shade, and just leave them there when we wander. We always have a smoked turkey leg. Usually, I share one with somebody. If I eat a whole one, I get full and can’t eat the other festival food I want. Like roasted corn on the cob, which we also always get. Soft-serve ice cream. Although, this year, I had the apple dumpling ala mode, which was fabulous.
We don’t use the Port-o-pots; we walk up to the Galt House instead. You can go in through the patio bar area and use a real bathroom, get ice and fill the water bottles, and cool off in the air conditioning. It’s well worth the walk.
Musically, there’s one band on our “must see” list – The Rigbys. Julia went to high school with Mark, who plays keyboard, so they get to say hello and I get to act like I know someone in the band. They usually play around 4:00, at an area up near the Galt House. They are absolutely one of the best bands there, and we’d go hear them even if we didn’t know Mark.
So this year we walked up early to hit the bathrooms at the Galt House before we went to see The Rigbys. There wasn’t actually a line in the bathroom, but there were quite a few people, some women with children, so there was a lot of activity. I’d finished washing my hands when I heard someone say, “Fausta.”
It took me a second to figure out who said it, in fact she said it again, “Fausta,” before I turned and saw her. She was a young woman, maybe early twenties, with dark hair pulled back in a cute ponytail. She was standing in the doorway of a stall, getting ready to go in, looking at me expectantly. I tilted my head, raised my eyebrows a tad – you know, that “I’m sure I know you, just can’t place you this second” look.
“Amber,” she said, and waited.
I said, “Amber…?” sorting through Ambers in my brain as quickly as I could. I really couldn’t even think of any, except for a woman I work with now.
“Amber,” she said again, more firmly. “You may not remember me, but I remember you. I recognized you when I saw you walk by.”
Now I was trying to mentally sort through places I might know her from – escorting? no. work? no. client? oh, who knows, could be. mentoring? maybe… omigod, I have no idea.
“Amber. I’m Amber.” She said it a third time, as if it should be completely clear to me by now. And waited. She had a little triangular face, and a half-smile. She was standing there in the doorway of the bathroom stall, waiting for me to recognize her.
And I was still completely lost. Blank. So I did what I’ve done before in similar situations. I faked it.
“Amber!” I said. “Hey – it’s good to see you! Really. Cool. Oh my god.” Or some such shit.
And she smiled, and went into the stall. I left, still wracking my brain for who she could be.
Of course, twenty minutes later, while I was listening to the Rigbys, I got a glimmer. “Amber?” I thought. “OMG, could that have been little Amber who lived down the street from us in Germantown a hundred years ago when my kids were little? OMG.” I pictured little Amber, slender, all bones and angles, with wispy bangs and – yes, that little triangular face. Little Amber. Could it have been?
We knew Amber from when she was maybe 4 or 5 til she was, I don’t know, maybe 7 or 8. Maybe 9. She was younger than my kids, in fact, Julia, my younger daughter, used to “babysit” for her and her younger brother and sister at our house – what were their names? Brian. Little Brian, he was the kind of kid who might take a screwdriver and have the door off the hinges if you weren’t watching him real close. OMG. Julia used to sell them her left-over Halloween candy – in January.
Could that really have been Amber? What was the other kid’s name – Amber and Brian and ??? I don’t know.
Little Amber was so cute. And smart. So sharp. She was always watching, and asking questions. God, I loved that kid. And competent. She was like a mother hen with Brian and – and – Tiffany!! Yes. Amber and Brian and Tiffany.
I am a dumbass. If I’d known that was Amber – that Amber – I’d have hugged her and asked her what she was doing now and – omg. I am a dumbass. Now I’m not even sure it was her. But, oh, I really think it was…
So of course I went back, walked back through to the bathroom, wandered around some of the indoor band areas, looking for Amber. And of course I didn’t find her.
And I didn’t run into her later either, even though I kept looking.
AND I can’t even remember her last name. If I could, I could look for her on facebook. Dave was her Dad’s name, her Mom was Angie, Dave and Angie What? That’s ok, I know some people who might remember. I’ll check around and see if I can’t find out, then – surely she’s on facebook.
But I promised myself last night, seriously promised, I’ll never do that fake, “Oh, yeah, hey, how are you?” thing again when I don’t really know who someone is. Never. I don’t care if it takes me a week to remember, I’ll just stand there til I do.
It’s funny, there’s so many things I could have asked that would have clued me in to who she was – I don’t know why I didn’t. And of course there’s a bunch of things she could have said. Her parent’s names. Germantown. Lots of things.
Instead – I keep hearing her say “Amber. I’m Amber.” It reminds me of – you know how, when little kids dress up for Halloween, sometimes we pretend we don’t know who they are, or that we’re scared of them? And when they’re real little, they think we really don’t know who they are, and they’ll say, “It’s me, I’m Davey,” or “Susie” or whoever they are. Then they wait, with just a touch of anxiety, for you to recognize them.
OHHH!” we say, in fake surprise, “I almost didn’t recognize you with that clown mask – scary face – makeup – whatever. It is you!” And they’re relieved. Even with their costume on, we still know them. They are still who they are.
“I’m Amber.” Damn it. Sometimes I am a dumbass.