The recent term “alternative facts” regarding how many people attended the inauguration reminded me of something said to me long ago.
He was a new friend. I knew he got high but that’s not my thing. He was visiting one afternoon and we were having a discussion – I forget about what – and he said something questionable that I then challenged. He became somewhat indignant and offered a swift rejoinder.
HIM: “It’s a factual fact.”
That’s when I realized he was stoned.
We didn’t stay friends but to this day I trot out his words when I think my words need that little extra emphasis.
This was long time ago when I had recently learned about the nutritional differences between lettuces, how Romaine and Leaf Lettuces were good choices over Iceberg. I was at his house when I saw he had bought a head of Iceberg lettuce. I wanted to share my new knowledge.
ME: You have to eat the whole thing to get any nutritional value.
HIM: I am going to eat the whole thing.
Uncharacteristically I had nothing say to that. As far as comebacks go, I have to admit it was pretty good.
I didn’t know him but I’d seen him around. He’d looked at me in a friendly way a couple times but I really hadn’t thought much about it. He was younger and I was pretty sure he was married. He struck up a conversation with me while he was working and no one else was around. After brief chit-chat he looked at me more pointedly and asked if he could say something to me.
ME (somewhat warily): “What’s the subject about?”
HIM: “It’s about attraction.”
ME: “Aren’t you married with a couple little kids?”
HIM: Yes. It’s only talking.
ME: (joking it off): Uh huh. Get back to work!
After that he was very cool, more or less snubbing me. He was likely embarrassed and wanted to act as if the encounter hadn’t happened but ironically the way he behaved toward me served to remind me of the incident rather than letting me forget it. The whole thing was puzzling. Later, as in years later, I pieced together that there’d been trouble in his marriage but I think they worked it out.
We were adults. There was no question we had strong feelings for each other. It was not clear yet what this would be.
“Do you think about us being together forever and ever?” he asked.
I answered without hesitation, without equivocating.
Later, a year or two, I said did he remember asking me that and what my answer had been.
“No,” came the sullen reply.
It was never mentioned again by either of us.
Some words just stick with you years later.
I was seeing a smart man with a sense of humor that bordered on absurdist or dark, which I appreciated. His grandmother died and while they weren’t the closest, he was genuinely saddened. He needed to take time off work for the funeral and his employer rather uncharitably gave him a hard time about it, demanding proof. To me he commented dryly, “What, do they want me to bring in a limb?”
Perhaps I too am a bit twisted, but it still gives me a snort.
He didn’t give many gifts but once gave me a small one that was strangely out-of-character for a man not given to frivolity.
“It’s Winnie-the-Pooh,” he said confidently.
I looked at the figure.
“No it isn’t,” I replied with conviction.
Without missing a beat, he countered, “Okay, it’s a bear on a swing.”
We were in our early thirties and a couple. This day we were at the park. He was chewing gum. After awhile, when we were in a private spot, he leaned in and kissed me, which was very nice. Then I got to thinking…
ME: “What happened to your gum?”
HIM (nonchalantly): “I swallowed it.”
ME (incredulous & concerned): “What?! No, you shouldn’t swallow gum!