The Unforgotten

Contributor: Chris Sharp

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Melanie was the sixth woman Tony took seriously enough to introduce to Mother.  Tony reminded himself that these select maternal meetings never came close to representing his active social life. He would date dozens of women in a year before a “mother meeting” came up.
Tony reminded himself that Melanie differed from the other demure women he introduced to Mother.  Melanie was playful.  Mother extended her serious greeting hand, and Melanie prance-stepped toward it.  There had also been the feeling of a bounce in Melanie’s step earlier that afternoon, when Tony had taken her to Yankee Stadium to watch the Yankees.  She wanted to twice go to the Stadium canteen for more Pepsi and hot dogs so Tony could watch her bubbling up the steps.  When the fans leaving the stadium crowded them into a standstill, Melanie took an assortment of steps running in place.
“People don’t exercise when they have the chance,” she said to explain the stationary running.  “I do this in elevators, and it does make them bounce.”
It was their first date, as was about 90 percent of the evenings Tony spent with young women.  Melanie wasn’t as young as the rest.  She had been a classmate with Tony in their middle school, so she was about the same age by a few younger months.  But her original youthfulness lingered in her like a remainder out of a ratio.
Tony took her hand to help navigate her through the swirling crowd at the Yankee Stadium gates, and even there her fingers were playfully moving among his. Somehow her buoyant ways had introduced a remarkable thought, that he should ask her to marry him.  With all of Tony’s dating, he had never asked that question to anyone, although he was in his middle thirties and a multi-millionaire already.
Tony fought off the question of marriage as long as he could, for about fifteen minutes, by his count.  He started the subject up as he ignited his pearl BMW through the Stadium parking lot.
“My earliest memory of you,” he said, “was me standing in front of my radio, me with a phone in my ear, calling you, the radio so loud you couldn’t hear what I was saying.”
“Why did you have the music on so loud?”
“Because I worried I was so boring.  I thought the music would save the day.”
He asked Melanie to marry him repeatedly as he drove her to his mother apartment in the borough of Queens.
“Okay,” she said.
“Okay what?”
“Okay, Tony, I’ll marry you.”
He didn’t trust it.  The process was too easy to trust.
“Will you really marry me, Melanie?  I’ll give you everything I have and I’ll never deal with all my big toys again because I just want to spend all my time dealing with you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You can take my Corvette.”
“I don’t like Corvettes. How can you feel comfortable in one?”
“I’ll give you my boat. It’s yours.”
“I wouldn’t be spending that much time in any boat.”
When they arrived at his mother’s apartment in Queens, he was asking Melanie to marry him again while she was telling him that she now decided “no” if he insisted on dumping all this “stuff” on her.  This was still happening as he woke up.
Reluctantly he collected himself as he accepted that he was only having a very odd time in his sleep.
The time was almost 8:30, late enough for him to contact the serious people that he felt were worth seeking.  On the day before, he had received the contact book for his 20-year high school reunion. Then in a couple of weeks, the event would be over, and his former classmates would have renewed themselves as remade 38-year-olds.
Tony had drawn instant gratification that Melanie’s name in the contact book had no accompanying spouse listed. 
The classification put Melanie in the same boat as Tony as well as practically half the alumni, the people who had never married or were divorced.
“Melanie?” he said on his phone, as soon as he found her name.
It took a couple of minutes for Tony to establish to Melanie who he was.
“Melanie, I was the one who had his radio on so loud when I called you in middle school.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not the contact for the reunion.”
“I understand,” Tony said. 
“This has been a crazy morning.”
“Why would it be so crazy, Melanie?”
“Because I just came in from outside, and I have no idea or memory of what I was doing suddenly out on my front porch this morning.  I should be in bed waking up.”
“Could it be that I’m having some kind of stroke?  But I feel fine. I feel very, very good.”
“Can I do my best to answer your question, Melanie?”
“It’s not a stroke, you think?”
“It’s because you were in my dream, this morning.”
“That’s why I called you, Melanie.  That’s where you’ve been, in my dreaming head this morning.”
“Please don’t dream about me again.  If you do, wake yourself up.”
“I will.”
“Because it’s exhausting. Being in your dream has totally exhausted me this morning, that’s what. I just don’t want to talk now.  If you want we’ll get a table at the reunion and we’ll talk about it then.”
“Okay, Melanie.  Okay.”
“Goodbye, Tony.”
When Tony hung up, he began to get into his clothes that day at about twice as fast as his usual speed.  The rate got more intense as he pulled the car out of his driveway.
“She was in my dream,” he said to himself, to make sure of everything. “But then she left all this energy in it.”
Throughout the day Tony carried the thought that if he moved a little faster, as quickly as he could, the date of this wonderful talk at this reunion party table would move even closer.

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Chris Sharp’s latest book on Amazon is “How to Like a Human Being.” He lives with his wife Debbie in Menifee, California.
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