Thursday, January 21, 2016

A LOSS OF MEMORY by Peter Nolan Smith

The Catholic Church and other derivatives of the Judaeo-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 each of my new brothers or sisters from the hospital.
“A stork?” The long-winged bird was not native to New England.
“Yes, a stork,” my parents said the word with reverence and they remained faithful as mating pigeons to each other. Bees never entered into the conversation about babies, because the queen bee had so many lovers.

Just like me. I can’t count the number of my paramours on one hand 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 acute memories and quote a man’s utterance twenty years after the words left his lips, so I imagined that all females would be equally recollective about the act of love, but not all of them.

Several years ago I ran into Valda at a Lower Manhattan studio opening. The ex-La Rocka model was still a beauty. Not a surprise, since the Polish emigre had been Jean-Michel's muse as had many women in the artist's short life. We sat on a gallery's window sill recounting our past and a younger women with a younger male 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 glow 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 educate them about the hills and canyons of love, so I said, “No, we were never a couple, but we once were lovers.”

“No, we weren’t.” Valda harshly answered with darkening eyes.

“We weren’t?” I remembered certain spending hours together on a hot August night in 1979.

“Not at all.” Her adamant denial bristled with certitude.

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


That encounter couldn’t have been a phantasm of my fantasies. She had scratched my back to shreds.


“Yes.” A fury settled in her eyes.

The young couple 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 someone elses.” Valda sway from the window. I remained seated, thinking that she was right, because a woman is never wrong about a man, but I had slept with one of her best friends.

Lucille and I had lasted a weekend.

My imaginary tryst with Valda went on for a month.

1979 wasn’t a time for monogamy.

I stood up. Valda stood by the bar. I was exiled from her thoughts and I wondered what other men else dwelled in her gulags. It really didn't matter, because 1979 was a long time ago and even worse maybe I wasn’t so memorable in the affairs of the birds and bees, then again I had slept with one of her best friends.

Lucille wouldn’t know if I was right, but I was gracious enough to allow Valda her victory, for as the philosopher Pascha Ray paraphrased, “As you get old you forget. As you get older you are forgotten by everyone but yourself.”

Sad, but sometimes true.

Especially in the mind of a woman.

Other photos of Valda and Mary Beth and Lucille.

In 1979 we were friends and I never forget friends.

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