When you have a half dozen email addresses that you have used through out the years you reach a place where ydou recognize it is too much and try to centralize things.
If your father was a Virgo who labeled everything and
beat encouraged you to double and triple check things before you got rid of them you go with your training.
Because taking an extra moment to confirm there isn’t a picture, file or message that you might not have a copy of is worth the time it takes to save you stress later.
And so you come across old messages that tell stories about earlier years of your life when you were trying to decide whether to go right or left, take a new job or stick with what you have.
You go through it and see messages from people who made promises to you and those you promised as well.
There are old electronic bills, invitations and comments you received, sent and or shared with others.
It is a digital graveyard and a living repository of what was, what is and sometimes what might yet be.
The guy on the other side of the phone line asks me to tell him about fraternity life in California and asks if I have been to some of the crazy parties he has heard about.
He doesn’t see me nod my head nor catch the eye roll as he tells me about how a five day trip to LA and what he has read has made him an expert on the state, Los Angeles and what college was like for me.
“Whenever I have spoken to guys who are thinking about rushing or actives in the house I tell them the biggest part of fraternity life comes as an alum. The stuff we did back then makes for some great stories and helped with initial bonding but it is nothing compared to afterwards.
The weddings, brisses, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and funerals are all part of it. The networking and shared life experiences, that is what really solidifies things.”
That stuff doesn’t resonate with him and he goes right back to asking about parties.
“Did you ever hook up with a girl? Did you steal any mascots? Did you do anything crazy?”
“Yeah, I met a few. Cannot confirm nor deny anything about animals. And yeah, we built a float for homecoming that we used to ram the bleachers the dean was sitting in. Oh and we held a dance across county lines because the preacher that ran our town wouldn’t allow a dance.”
I go silent because if I say anything else it will be what I really think of him and that won’t leave him with a smile.
Phone rings midday, one of the guys wants to know if I can take a look at their resume and offer any tips.
We bounce a few things back and forth and he asks when I was in the house.
“You pledged in 1987?”
“Yeah, I am one of the old guys now. Been alum since ’91. Been working long enough that people I started out with are retired. Starting to be less unusual to know guys who are grandfathers now.”
“You’re not that old.”
“No, I am not. But I have 14 years on you and sometimes been a part of conversations about who has to get up to pee in the night. BTW, you didn’t ask, but 99% of the time that is not an issue for me. Can’t go 18 hours anymore, especially if I drink as much water as the doc wants me too.
Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask. Have no fear, you’ll hit this mark too.”
Quick trip to put some gas in the car before the weather dips below 20 and a face catches my eye.
It takes a moment for me to figure out why he looks familiar and then it makes me laugh. Looks like one of their Peace Corps buddies but it can’t be because his face is too close to how I remember him looking.
Reminds me of a conversation with Dad about the message his buddy left him for his birthday.
“Una reunion de los pendejos de los barrios Guayaquileños.”
“Hey old man, your grandchildren might see this. What kind of example are you setting for them allowing him to curse on your Facebook.”
I don’t have to see Dad to know he is saluting me.
“Put the finger down old man and and appreciate that years of listening to you and mom try to hide things from us paid off and that my Spanish is good enough to follow you guys.
Later on I’ll be on a business call flipping between English and Spanish, grateful the guy on the other side is patient with me because I am butchering it.
Keep wanting to insert words in Hebrew instead and I am making a mess of three languages proving I am fluent in speaking/writing in one and pushing out gibberish in two more.
Might be time to do a little studying on the side because with a little effort I can make a dramatic improvement in all.
Instead of trying to walk the damn line I could study it…maybe.
Or I could write a couple of letters and some stories. So many decisions, so many opportunities and so little time.