The term literally references lightning, a phenomenon that usually occurs during a dark sky (rain clouds). When such an event occurs when it is not supposed to (blue sky, no clouds), it has a tendency to catch you off guard.

My answering machine doesn’t have one those so-called “personalized greetings” that tells the would be caller that “Hi, this is Bob, I’m not in right now so please leave me a detailed message and I’ll make sure I get back to you” or any other such thing. There was a time way back when when it used to but every time there was a power outage or a blackout my voice would be wiped out and I’d have to start all over again. Then I’d fret and fuss about what kind of message to leave. Should I be friendly? Should I be business like? Should I have one those goofy announcements where music plays in the back round and I make some kind of proclamation about my lack of whereabouts that coincides with the lyrics to the song?

Personally, that last suggestion is not my style and after awhile, I discovered that I’m not all that original. My friendly greeting sounded too businesslike and my business greeting sounded too friendly. As for the whole song thing, I never even gave it a serious thought. Soon after that, I think I had lost the directions on how to change the whole thing in the first place and these days I rely on the robotic, monotone greeting that says…

Machine: “Hello, please leave a message after the tone…Beeeeep”

Hey, I know I could come up with something better but at least when the power goes out, the message stays intact. That in itself is worth it to me. Call me a throwback but I refuse to be a slave to technology in whatever little way I can..

Sorry, I’m rambling here…

So anyway, after last nights parent/kid/coach soccer meeting from hell, we get home and my message light is blinking. After pushing play and hearing the robot speak I was stunned to hear…

Voice with thick Brooklyn accent: “Hey Bob, I hope dis iz you. Dis iz Tony (Insert Italian last name that ends in a vowel here), we grew up next to each udda. I hope ya rememba me. I gotcha numba from Tommy (Insert Polish last name ending in a different vowel here) and wanted to give ya a call. I know it’s been alotta years but I was thinkin’ a tryin’ to get a bunch of us back tagetha in da middle of July. We’re all about hittin’ fifty right about now an I taught it’d be cool to see what we did wit our lives. I know you probably can’t make it but I’d taught I’d give it a shot. Hope all is good wit you and dat life’s treatin’ ya ok. Anyway, here’s my numba, give me yell if you can make it or give me a yell anyway. Later.”

Later?

Holy shit! I hadn’t heard that dude’s voice in over thirty five freakin’ years! I tried to picture what he looked like way back when and the image of a kid with eyeglasses that were held together with some tape or a Band-Aid and that we used to make fun of. He was the one who’s mom would yell out the window almost every night in a voice that seemed it could shatter glass, “Antoneeee! Time for dinnah!” and he’d go rushing home just like that kid on the old Prince Spaghetti commercials.

At first we’d kid him about it but he later told us it wasn’t because he was all that hungry or his mom’s cooking was all that good. He was afraid of getting his ass kicked if he was late.

Now there’s something most of us that ran together had in common. Back in my old haunts, being punctual or dropping whatever it was you were doing and coming when you’re called by your parents was one of the prime factors in what into being called “A good kid”. There wasn’t even a thought about saying back to them “Just let me finish (insert whatever it was you were doing)”. It just didn’t happen.

My kid thought I was crazy but I replayed the message a bunch of times. Maybe because it stirred so many memories of the years gone by and brought back so many stories that I might feel the need to tell at some point in time but I don’t think that was the main thing though.

I thought to myself that at least for little while, I was in somebody else’s thoughts. That even though close to thirty five years had gone by with nary a word, a birthday card or a Christmas card exchanged between us, I managed to creep into somebody else’s mind. Maybe I was only in there for a blink of an eye or maybe he was three sheets to the wind and conjuring up memories of the years gone and doing some drunken dialing to pass the time. One thing’s for sure, I know I don’t owe him any money.

I haven’t decided if I want to make the trek back to Brooklyn just yet. Truth is, one of my friends out here in Columbus is staging a little party in celebration of his pending nuptials that very weekend.

I’m gonna call him and thank him for the invite though. Maybe after speaking to him in person he’ll convince me to come or maybe it’ll be enough to keep me at home.

Either way, it’s nice to know that even after so many years and so much quiet time between us and even if it lasts for only the briefest of times, you’re still alive in somebody’s mind.

Note to self…

Never forget that…

Not for a minute.

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