Friday, July 22, 2011

Next Stop, the Twilight Zone

It all started when we were leaving Bobby's ophthalmologist's office this afternoon. We'd been there since nine. While waiting for the doctor in an examination room, a torrential downpour had deluged the city and flooded the streets around the Touro complex. Now we were leaving to grab a late lunch and pick up a new prescription of eye drops.

We had reached the door of the reception room. As I opened it, a woman caught my eye and held my attention. She seemed to know me. Something about her seemed familiar to me, as well. She did not speak, though, only smiled. She never took her eyes off me.

The corridor outside the doctor's office was empty. So was the elevator we rode to the floor from which we could reach the parking garage. At our destination, as the metal doors slid open to release us, a lady about to enter the elevator blinked at me in some semblance of recognition. She seemed about to speak, but didn't, only watched me as I walked away.

I had decided to treat Bobby to a Chinese lunch at the August Moon a few blocks from Touro Infirmary on Prytania. I like the August Moon. The staff is courteous and friendly. The food is good. Our greeter seated us at a table for two at a window on the avenue.

There was a lady seated at the table next to us. She seemed to take no notice of us nor pay any attention to me. I felt a vague unease begin to lift from round my shoulders. But five minutes could not have passed before she leapt up from her seat to greet an old friend who had just swept into the restaurant to join her. I glanced up at the commotion and locked eyes on another pair boring into me, the eyes of her friend.

Who was he? I could have sworn I knew him but could not locate him in time or place.

I averted my gaze to look out onto the sidewalk activities beyond my window. A young man was passing by. A doctor, perhaps. He was intently talking on a cell phone as he moved by me. Then his eye wandered and he saw me looking at him. His face softened as he looked back at me. He seemed as familiar to me at that moment as I must have seemed to him.

I turned my attention to Bobby and lunch. I tried to convince myself I was imagining things. I kept myself from looking around the restaurant or out the window while we ate.

Finally, the meal was done. As I asked our server for the check, I could see beyond her, seated at a center table, a lady cop and her companion, a paraplegic man, looking in my direction, both of them smiling in faint recognition.

Yes, they looked familiar to me, but my mind would not name them as it had not named any of the others who had smiled at me today.

My breathing was becoming strained as I paid the bill and hurried Bobby out of the August Moon and into the damp of that earlier downpour.

The prescription could wait. I needed to get home, to lock myself behind strong doors, and settle myself down in a safe place where there would be no eyes to bore into me. No one from my misty or imagined past needing me, demanding a response from me.

People say a rainfall clears the air.

Not always.

12 comments:

  1. This is a good and very realistic story.   I was up by Touro yesterday morning myself,  but I wasn't one of those people you saw.   All I got for lunch was an ordinary muffin at PJ's.   This feeling of half-recognition reminds me of taking a flight home to New Orleans-- everyone on board looks and seems very familiar to me, and vice versa.   People ask if I have a twin sister, or if my grandmother was so-and-so.  We actually don't know each other, but we saw each other on the up-and-down intersection of the Dillards escalators, or standing by the streetcar stop.  After thirty years of this, it's all still up there in the brain.  Twilight Zone was a lovable show, after all!    sp

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  2. Wow, thank God this happens to other people! I thought I was cracking up.

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  3. Glenn, relax, it happens to more people than you think. I can't count how many times, strangers have asked me, if we knew each other. Always, the answer is no. I just assumed I had a mediocre or pedestrian face! I guess beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of
    sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and
    substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the
    Twilight Zone!

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  4. do do do do, do do do do....That is pretty freaky. Maybe you all had some kind of connection in an alternate universe.

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  5. In that case, I'm glad they were smiling ;-)

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  6. I am so glad to have read this.  I thought it was a fictional story, you being a director and all but I had the most bizarre shit happen to me today too.  I was going to tell you about it but when I read it back it was way too weird.  Glad to know I have company...

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  7. I'm happy to do what I can in the battle for everyday sanity. I'm also happy I posted this, since I've discovered it was not some bizarre, atypical occurrence or the result of a lesion on the brain, but an ordinary, everyday event. However, I still say, "WTF?!"

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  8. I think i found you just in time! Thanks so much for your comment on my blog today. I'm hanging on tight to the sides of the boat! 

    I love coming here. Happy Friday. 

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  9.  LOL, you're welcome. Can I give you one more tip? When you feel the block getting in the way ... try writing about how you're trying to get around the block. Sorry for the pun ;-)

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  10. You have been living there so long you know everyone.

    I am coming to New Orleans in February to sit for the Bar Exam.

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