Are first impressions timeless?
It’s curious business bumping into people from our pasts. People whom we haven’t seen since school; people whom we haven’t thought of in decades and because of that lack of constancy have faded into the obscurity of our minds, along with a myriad of other half-forgotten memories.
Then, when we do see them, eons later, although sluggish at first, something triggers our mind, and we begin to recall everything about them with amazing precision. We remember their personalities: obnoxious or gregarious; their quirks; their senses of humour – or lack thereof; and whether or not we had a crush on them in school.
The person that I bumped into in the parking lot of the mall, that day, could never have been someone I could have had a crush on.
Albeit now, he is a dentist. A successful one at that (or so he alleged). At first, I did not recognize him with his expensive shirt and cheap shoes; his thinning hair and garish Mag wheels – attached to an even more garish yellow sports-edition BMW, which screamed: “penis-compensation”.
If he hadn’t recognized me and bellowed out my name a half a dozen times, I would have jumped in my car and happily meandered home, my life neither lacking nor poorer for having passed him by.
Yet, there he was, in my face, demanding if I remembered him and what I have been up to these twenty-odd years. His tone had a bragging, megalomaniacal quality to it, and the way he kept tugging at his cufflinks and patting his car, made me roll my eyes, secretly wishing he would just go away.
The first few minutes of our “reunion” were extremely dull, pointless even. He dominated the conversation with boasts of his qualifications, practices (notice the plural, he certainly made me notice!) and the places he had been to. (Who cares?)
Just as my mind was about to slip away to the nothing-place it usually goes to, whilst listening to readings from the bible, the boss’s morning meetings or Josh Groban’s Christmas Collection: The Dentist did something that struck a chord, so deeply etched in my memory, I wonder now, how I could have forgotten him in the first place.
The Dentist scratched his behind. Well not really scratched it, more like, cupped it, ever so fleetingly… but long enough for my quicksilver mind to have registered the manoeuver.
A manoeuver which led to the instant realisation (and deep regret for having shook said hand) that he, HE was Hayden!
For those readers whom I have just lost, please bear with me.
Let me set the scene.
I had the misfortune of attending primary school with Hayden. He was the rankest, vilest creature, I have ever come across. Except for pictures of Paris Hilton’s snatch… but that’s another story altogether.
Almost everyone spent the better parts of their childhood years trying to avoid this fetid homo-erectus.
Upon reflection now, I must surmise that he had an awful case of ‘the worms’. Which is probably the reason why he spent most of his childhood with his finger wedged up his arse; but when you are 11 years old and the person in your class constantly picks his behind, you do not think of the rhyme or reason, only the means of escaping the peril.
I would watch from afar, the impression his hand would make as it fisted beneath his pants, scratching vigourously, back and forth, up and down.
I’m certain Hayden thought he was being discreet, but the dolt couldn’t fathom that even though his back was turned and HE couldn’t see us – WE could certainly see him!
The news spread like wild-fire.
There is nothing as well-oiled and as sophisticated as an 11- year olds’ grape-vine.
Soon throngs gathered in groups to surreptitiously watch Hayden forage his pants.
Nick-names began being bandied about. Some preferred gems like, “Dip-Shit and Stinky-Fingers”, or my own personal contribution, “Thumb in your Bum”!
However, it was decreed that “Butt-Picker” was the most succinct and so he was christened.
Some of us cunningly used the acronym: “BP”. We would say things like: ”BP alert, or BP fast-approaching.” Or in class: ”BP just used your ruler, you may wish to burn it!”
I remember poor, meek Fatima who was unfortunate enough to sit at the same tandem-desk with Hayden. I see her now in my minds eye, as she would sidle to the farthest reaches of her chair, putting as much distance as she could between herself and BP: whose fetish at this time was evolving into fever pitch. I can almost hear the popping sound, as BP would pull his finger from his pants and press the offending digit to his nose. Nothing like a good, old whiff of your arsehole to boost your flagging attention when the teacher begins to drone.
By Jove, I think Hayden invented his own version of the smelling salts!
In due time he cottoned on to the fact that we knew!
We knew! Heck, the entire school knew!
Being embarrassed was one thing, but couple that with a macabre (Freudian-like-anal) fixation and this is a recipe for ugly.
Hayden, humiliated and feeling like a pariah, exacted revenge. And it began with poor, meek Fatima.
He chased her around the playground at break with said finger, trying to get her and her group of friends to gain a whiff of it too. Soon, that became his thing. People avoided him like the plague.
He would energetically pick his butt, then hound all and sundry at break-time with those fingers.
And there he was, “BP”, decades later standing before me, drumming those very fingers on the retractable roof of his car. Trying to be self-important and airy, as if those things he did at school could be so easily forgotten.
This brings to mind an inane episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that I watched many years ago. Oprah was interviewing Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr. asking him what it was like growing up being the son of an affluent mogul. Junior’s response was that although life was privileged, there was also a big stigmata attached!
Did Donald Sr. sire the new Jesus, complete with crucifixion wounds? Surely the dolt meant stigma? All that money and education in the world, and he still made an ass of himself on national television!
So much in common with BP. A dentist, solely because his daddy was one, and no doubt bribed his way through university (Hayden wasn’t anywhere close to being bright and could never have achieved his pluri-practices on his own merit.) A DENTIST! The thought of those fingers in someone’s mouth…
Which brings me to this juxtaposition. Hayden and Donald Jr. – both successful and rich. For me though, they will always bear the mark of their stupidity.
Nothing: not their standing in life, wealth nor fast-cars, could ever iron-out their collective stigmata’s.
Which makes me wonder do we, as individuals, ever lose our own stigmatas (stigmas) or do they too mark us, wherever we may go?