The Great Guppie
I get out more now than I used to, making my way around Laytonville, taking care of a litany of tasks, and thus I encounter more of its populace than I once did. Amongst those I chance upon, are many former students, who once had the dubious distinction of being in my language class. If you were in my language class, then you were also in my reading class, and probably social studies as well. And you are still having nightmares about diagraming sentences. Either that, or you are saying, “What’s diagraming sentences?”
Though my former students all seem to recognize me, especially if I’m flapping my jaws, I do not necessarily recognize them. Maybe it is something about the beard he is wearing, or the child she is balancing on her hip, as she reaches across the cart to grab a jar of pickles at Geiger’s.
They mostly have the advantage over me.
Sometimes I am lucky, and have the opportunity to run the image I now see, through the razor sharp regions of my cottage cheese brain, and come up with a name. Michael. Up here on Bell Springs, displaying his loaves of freshly baked bread at the farmers market. He bakes in a wood-burning oven that he constructed. I am here to tell you the bread is vastly surpassing excellent.
I ran across Shayla recently when she handed me a menu, and placed a glass of iced water in front of me. I knew I recognized her, but could not retrieve a name, so I fell back on my old guy routine. “Hi, I’m Mark and I know I knew you in another lifetime, but...” As soon as she heard my voice, she saw past the facial decoration and she gave me a dazzling smile. I had this image of summer time and the enrichment program at the middle school. She was there every day, along with her siblings, probably not thrilled to be, but making the most of it. She was also a backstage director for one of our drama productions.
Because I see Lindsay all the time (I have her to thank for guiding me in setting up my blog) I frequently see her friends. Henry is up here a lot, joining us upon occasion at the market, and not too long ago I saw Brett, I didn’t recognize him soon enough to say hi, of course, but I will the next time.
Of course, when I saw Guthrie at Vidal’s Memorial, I was flummoxed to learn that the he is now an assistant principal at a high school in the Bay Area. The “Great Guppie?” When he mentioned that one of his most vivid memories was earning his fourth lunchtime detention, thus making him ineligible for the field trip to Yosemite, I said to him, “Well, gosh, you must think of me fondly then.”
He laughed and said, “Hey, I was in eighth grade. You and Mr. Poulton made it clear that if we couldn’t keep it together in the classroom, we were not going to be allowed to go to Yosemite. I knew the rule and I knew the consequences. So the only person I was mad at was myself. And then the same thing happened to Nick and you gave us the opportunity to come on a Saturday and pull weeds to earn back the right to go.”
Well, that’s a relief. At least he hasn’t spent the last twenty years tossing darts at my unrecognizable picture.
And of course there is Nate-Dawg, always grinning behind the counter at the “Ron.” He and Lito have been friends since preschool, though I best remember when they were in the fifth grade, arguing with Mrs. Longcrier bout the merits of Troy Aikman versus Joe Montana. They were in on the caper where we got [name omitted to protect the innocent] to open her classsroom door, and tape a poster of Joe Montana over that of Emmet Smith. I only wish I could have been there as the kids stated to first smile, then chuckle, then chortle, and then just burst out laughing. The only problem was, Mrs. Longcrier was not as amused.
“Hey, what happened to the Giants, this year?” he asked me recently.
“Oh, I think any Giants fan knows the answer to that one. When Buster went down, so did our crown. But in the immortal words of Yogi, “We couldn’t have won it without him, so we didn’t.”