Ever wonder what causes certain people from childhood to stick in your brain for no discernible reason?
People who, when they pop up on your mental movie screen, cause you to pause and think, “Whoa. Where’d they come from?”
My memory vault is stocked with some strange standouts. I mean, I can understand remembering my very first BFF, the first kid to bully me in school, or the first boy who’s heart I broke.
Those people had a profound enough impact in my life to scorch their own trail to my long-term memory.
But Ian and Derek from Mrs. Gould’s 4th grade class? We did nothing more than share space in the back of the classroom and swap yogurt for Twinkies at lunch. I’d understand remembering them for nearly three decades if we’d at least swapped spit. Maybe it was the unique name or the leather jackets? Or just the fact that they were complete opposites.
Ian, who to me, had the coolest name ever, sat to the right of me for most of the school year. His desk was as orderly and pristine as mine was a black hole that swallowed up my homework and barfed out excuses.
He came to school every day in dress slacks, loafers, a button down shirt and either a navy or red sweater vest. He never misplaced his homework or had to borrow a pencil. Nor did he have a problem loaning his pencils to me when I needed one. He was just a sweet kid who, thankfully, hated Twinkies as much as I hated yogurt.
Behind him sat tall, dark and Polish Derek. The “Bad Boy” of 4th grade. (If the 4th grade can have “bad boys” that is.) He wasn’t a jerk, that I remember, but he sure could pull off an attitude that matched his “Thriller” uniform; leather pants, either black or red, a matching jacket full of zippers and buckles, and high-top shoes.
He was the only kid in the school who could outrun me, but not by much. And if my desk was a black hole, then his was a supernova. Nothing that entered his desk came out unscathed, or at all.
Though the three of us did team up once in a while (a very unlikely-looking trio) for assignments or kickball, I can’t pinpoint one thing about them that stands out enough to make them so extremely memorable. Yet I’ve named my firstborn after one and pillaged the memories of both for personality traits and quirks for characters that haven’t yet found a home in stories.
Somewhere, somehow, in the ten-month span of 4th grade, they did something that caused my subconscious to freeze-frame them permanently in my mental photo album. And the ego part of me sometimes wonders, “do I stick out for no good reason in their memories too?”
Do you have any memories of people that cause you to ask yourself – “What the heck? Why him/her?”
Photo Credit: My Dad