“Oh, let there be a fire break out somewhere; or some masked men running out of a boutique amidst blaring security alarms …”
Those evil thoughts are slowly emerging while my mind is working into my memory.
It’s Saturday night and we’re strolling in the shopping mall after dinner. My wife and kids are somewhere shopping for new shoes, while I was happily sitting on a bench observing the people traffic, trying to come up with my next blogging materials.
While one part of my brain was trying to be creative, the other part was trying to come up with a name to match a face I met ten minutes ago. The lady smiled at me while we were going up on the escalator as she traveled the opposite direction. I smiled back politely, knowing she’s an acquaintance of some sorts but can’t match the face with a name, a place and a time, and felt relieved for not getting myself into an embarrassing conversation in which I don’t know who I’m talking to.
Later, I regretted I smiled. For smiling back means I recognize her and she’s now standing in front of me, in a conversation with me.
While my mind’s trying to dig up a name, I dare not miss a word she says. Hoping to find a gap within her stream of words to counter attack and pry open some information to unlock my memory.
As my mind is flipping through names and places all the way back to my primary school years, I’m getting a little bit uneasy.
Until now, I can only be defensive and stop the flow of exchanges by answering her every question without countering with a question. Fearing the question would expose my failing memory.
By this time, three minutes into the engagement, it would already be too embarrassing to ask, “You are … “ and let her complete the sentence.
However, knowing I won’t retain any memory while I was floating in my mother’s womb, I stop my futile search and start to work on another strategy to get away from this what-her-name person.
I reach my hand into my pocket, trying to feel the button on my handphone and try to make it ring by changing the ringtone. But the complexity of the correct key sequence stops me half way, and makes me drop my planned conversation into a non-responsive equipment.
I take out my handphone and try to look not too casually on the time shown, hoping she’d catch the hint.
By now, I’d have guessed that with her unrelenting, strong tenacity on the conversation, she’d most likely be an insurance agent whom I met not too long ago. The assumption that she’s not a personal friend makes my participation in the mostly one-way exchange easier.
Finally. At long last, she looks at her watch.
One last hurdle though, “Don’t mention my name, just say goodbye and go.“ I know I won’t be able to respond in kind.
Then, it strikes, “I gotta go. See ya, Michael,” she waves her hands, while I stand still.
Barely twenty seconds later, my wife and children appear. Surprised to observe my pensive expression, she taps my shoulder, “What’s wrong, Peter?”