Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A LOSS OF MEMORY by Peter Nolan Smith

The Catholic Church and other derivatives of the Judeo-Christian faith extol monogamy as the true state of man and woman, then explain sex through the mysteries of the birds and bees. Actually my parents never lectured their children on that subject, although they said that the stork had delivered a new brother or sister from the hospital.

"A stork?" I doubted their claim, for the bird was not native to New England.

"Yes, a stork," my parents said the word with reverence and they remained faithful to each other as mating pigeons. Bees never entered into the conversation about babies, maybe because the queen bee had so many lovers.

Just like me, for I can't count the number of my paramours on one hand or all my digits and while I don't remember all their names, I do recollect their faces, smiles, and smell, yet very little of the sex.

Woman on the other hand pride themselves on their memories.

They can quote you twenty years after the utterance left your lips. I thought that females would be equally recollective about the act of love, but not all of them.

Several years ago I ran into Valda at a studio opening in Manhattan. The ex-La Rocka model was still a beauty. I had been out of town for a half-year in Asia. She and I sat on a window sill reliving our past. The cheap wine was kind on our memories. Two younger people came up to us and the girl asked, "Are you a couple?"

"Not really." I smiled at the tenderness in her voice. I had once been that young.

"You seemed so comfortable together." Her beau beamed with the promise of two hearts beating as one and he held his girlfriend's hand with tenderness. They had a lot to learn, but I wasn't in the mood to bust their bubble, so I said, "No, we were never a couple, but we once were lovers."

"No, we weren't." Valda's quick answer came in a harsh tone.

"We weren't?" I was certain that we had slept together on my futon with slick sweat cooling our bodies on a hot August night in 1979.

"Not at all." Her adamant response bristled with denial.

"Are you sure?" Her kiss was etched on my mind.


Those few encounters couldn't have been a phantasm of my fantasies. She had scratched my back to shreds.


"Yes." A fury dwelt in her eyes.

The young couple were aghast at this reversal of their intuition and they fled from the charred ashes of my displaced memory.

"Sorry, guess I was thinking about someone else." I waved the white flag of surrender.

"And there were plenty of those." Valda stormed out of the gallery.

She was right, for a woman is never wrong about a man.

I had slept with two of her best friends.

Mary Beth and Lucille wouldn't know if I was right about sleeping with Valda, but I was gracious enough to allow Valda her victory, for maybe something bad had happened between us. I couldn't dredge up my sin, but then maybe I wasn't so memorable in affairs of the birds and bees.

I doubt it but as the philosopher James Steele said, "As you get old you forget. As you get older you are forgotten."

Sad, but sometimes true.

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