Books & Memories

Fall is here and summer is just 8 months away. Kind of depressing unless you like rainy, cold weather and five o’clock twilight. Clare diagnosed me with s.a.d., seasonal-asshole-disorder and I tend to agree. Nevertheless I put on my sunglasses and head out into the rain towards the village, the pub and a couple of frosty pints.

“Camp do all of us go back to our childhood days to figure out why we are the people we are today, afraid of commitments or driven to succeed, maybe resentful and bitter or over protective of our space, even depressed and unable to hold down relationships and jobs or even addicted to a smorgasbord of vices and delusions?”

“That is a loaded question. What the heck brings this on? Did you have a fight with Clare or with one of your kids?”

“No, no, nothing of the sort, I just spent a weekend with two lovely ladies at a book fair promoting my new book ‘Mariposa Intersections’ and we ended up talking a lot over a couple of bottles of wine. Very stimulating conversation but also very cathartic and introspective.  All three of us dredged up child hood experiences that most likely defined our future emotional responses and relationships significantly. In my case the fact that I was separated from my parents at age 4 and put into a sanatorium in the mountains for several months with other asthmatic kids. I thought that was it; they gave me away. I couldn’t understand. I was isolated and spent a lot of time in a hollow stump with my imaginary friends. I never again regained a trusting or intimate relationship with my mother,” I said shaking my head. “Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was the fact that we didn’t know each other and shared no common prior history.”

“I hope these deep insights don’t affect your sense of humour or finances,” Camp said with a dose or sarcasm. He’s not one to dawdle in introspection.

“You should be proud of me Camp, I was there to promote my book and you better sell a ton of them. I’m counting on you.”

“I’ll do my best.” Camp said.  What’s it about?”

“It’s a love story between a rich girl and a poor boy which shipwrecks on the shoals of social inequity and the two find themselves on opposing sides of a proposed nuke plant in central Mexico. He is part of an activist group while she reports for a right wing newspaper. It’s also a story about people coming together over a defining cause and fighting the government and the powers of greed and money. In a nutshell,” I said.

“You know how it works? I sell a ten dollar book which costs me six bucks and if I can’t sell it I can return it for credits.”

“And books don’t perish or rot,” I said. “Beats selling produce or fish.”

“You writers are a peculiar lot, always analysing everything, poking your noses into other peoples affairs; voyeurs and eavesdroppers that’s what you are. “

“Well that’s how we get our stories by observing and listening. We’re word painters, emotional dilettantes, probably all screwed up.” I said. All this navel gazing was making me rather thirsty and I finished my first pint before Camp hardly touched his.

“You seem a trifle agitated,” he remarked, taking a leisurely sip.

“Well yeah, it just was a very stimulating weekend, like soul therapy.”

“Good for you, I just hope you get back to your superficial best, like being concerned about the weather or the politics. All this soul searching mumbo jumbo just gives me a headache.”

“I’m sure you got some skeletons in your closet, you’re just too darn stubborn to admit to it or you threw away the key to your closet is more likely,” I said a bit annoyed, not with Camp but with myself as if admitting to having some old demons as friends was something to be ashamed of like a form of weakness, something missing.”

“It will take more then a couple of pints to empty my closet my friend,” he said,  “but I try to leave the past alone because it’s unchangeable and I don’t trust my memory to be truthful either. Memory is a trickster; it always twists events to facilitate our desired outcomes and aims. History is mostly revisionist and can be viewed and distorted through many lenses.”

“You’re such a sceptic,” I said, “but that makes you a good judge.”
“Not like the US supreme court judge candidate whose life is being pulled upside down by his past and history. Talk about cathartic,” Camp said. “Two opposing testimonies and one of them is a liar.”

“And a former drunken sex starved frat boy,” I said.

“And instead of guilty introspection the general reaction will be outward, defensive aggression. Watch the mid-terms next month and you’ll see I’m right. You poke the bear he roars and lashes out,” Camp said.

“It’s a sad circus but one without clowns,” I said.

“Sounds like you two are off to the circus?” Rosie said, changing our empties for a couple of full ones.

‘It’s more like the circus is coming to us,” I said, “all you have to do is turn on the TV. I think it’s time to cancel my subscription.”

“That’s the spirit,” Camp said, “a book beats the flat screen any time.”


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