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Tom, Dick & Harriet

An Enduring Memory

Our group of senior citizens met nearly every morning for breakfast at The Cracker Barrel. When I joined them in the back room they were eating breakfast and already engaged in an elaborate discussion. As common for older men, our voices were so loud that other patrons could hear our conversation. The retirees were all present, each in his own chair, for it was viewed almost a sacrilege for any of us to change the seating arrangement. The group consisted of my best friend, Dick Noble, and the the remaining members of the group, who all had nicknames. Sam Hedley, the unelected leader of our group was known as 'Head.'. Other members were, Percival Pinkney, known as 'Pinky', and Floyd Sutton, whom, because of his loud stupid remarks, we all called 'Dummy.'

      I greeted the group and took my usual seat at the end of the table. As usual, Head was leading the discussion. During a momentary lapse in his lengthy monologue, we continued to munch on our breakfast. Finally, Head looked at a man who waved at him as he entered the room. With a puzzled expression, Head looked up at the man as he took a seat with his friends at one of the tables across the room. He pointed in the man's direction. "That guy who's sittin' down over there that just waved to me. I think I know him, but I can't seem to place him in my mind…Who is he? Where do I know him from?"

      Dick glanced at the man. "I think he went to high school with us. He wasn't very popular, as I remember."

      Dummy turned his head and stared at the man. In his usual loud voice, he shouted, "Do you mean that guy in the red shirt?"

      "Yeah," answered Head. He curiously eyed the man. "There's something about him that makes him stand out in my mind, but I can't seem to remember what it is."

      Dummy announced in his booming voice, "Oh, you should remember him. His name's 'Oscar'… something. Don't you remember him? He's th' guy that sneezed and let that tremendous fart in algebra class when we were seniors. Damn near shook the rafters!"

      Apparently, having heard the loud remark, the man in the red shirt and several of his cronies looked in our direction.

      "Oh Yeah," said Head, "Now I remember him. I knew there was something that stood out about him."

      I also remembered the incident. It seems that the most enduring remembrance of every person is defined by his worst moment. The guy might have been an honor student, a star on the debating team, or a talented band member, but he would not be remembered for any such accomplishment. Sadly, the deed for which he was most remembered was confined to that one isolated incident: the unfortunate moment when he released that spectacular, thunderous expulsion of gas. The vivid memory of that single, ill-timed event had endured for more than fifty years, to be forever enshrined in the annals of Northridge High School folklore. Yet, we all laughed at the memory of it

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