Nobody’s watching

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 23, 2004

My brain ain’t workin’ so good these days. No, no, you neocon knuckleheads, what I’ve been telling you about Bush for the past two years (all predictions about what would happen if the US invaded Iraq so far have come true).

I think maybe that’s my problem. I’ve immersed myself in foreign policy, international diplomacy, national politics, and media coverage that I haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on around me. Call it obsession, if you like, but the fact is its allure is enough to make you sick.

Most specifically, I had agreed with my extended family from Ross to get some stuff in the newspaper about this Sunday’s bicentennial for Ross Baptist Church. This was several months ago. I got a call from my aunt last week to remind me. I was hot to write something and submit it that night, but forgot it by the next day.

There might be something in today’s paper because she called again this week to make sure my niece, my sister and I would be present for the celebration.

Gee whiz! This isn’t, mind you, a matter of not caring. I come from Ross and have always considered it home even though I lived there only a comparatively brief period of time. Almost everybody there is related to me. They’re good folks.

My grandmother, Sarah Hoggard, and my father, Vernon &uot;Pooner&uot; Hoggard, were totally dedicated to Ross Baptist Church – just as many of my aunts, uncles and cousins are today. I went there faithfully for many years and, even though I had that teenage &uot;I want to be doing something else&uot; attitude, I enjoyed going there.

But I feel I let everybody down by not better publicizing the 200th anniversary of the founding of the church. All I can say is that I’m sorry. I’m a dunderhead.

I’ve always had the lousiest memory of anyone outside of a daytime soap opera amnesiac. I not only have a bad memory for names, I can’t remember faces and I can’t remember events, and I can’t remember where I’m at nor why I’m there most of the time.

When I’ve forgotten something no other person would forget, people have commiserated with my by saying, &uot;We all get that way when we get a few years on us.&uot; Maybe that’s true – a terrifying thought – but I’ve always been this way. When I was 17 or 18 I couldn’t remember people that I should have remembered.

My mother used to marvel at how bad my memory was. She just couldn’t believe that I could forget people that I had known for months or years in the space of just a couple of years. She would tell stories about things I had done only a couple or three years before that, for me, was like listening to her describe someone else.

By the time I was in the Army, almost all of my childhood was gone. It’s true. I have maybe a dozen memories from my years before high school.

By the time I was in college (after a four-year stint in the Army and two years working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard), my high school memories were gone. Who my buddies were, what I did during the school day, my teachers, my classmates…all gone.

By the time I started working at Northampton News in 1990, my Army and college memories were almost all gone. Again, a few memories here and there are all I have left. For example, I was in an office at Fort Meade, MD with six or seven other people for almost two years and I don’t remember any of them now. I can only remember about a half-dozen people from my college days. In fact, I ran into a guy about five years ago who I shared an office with at East Carolina University as a grad student (circa 1985ish) who immediately started traveling down memory lane to the good old days. I didn’t know him and didn’t remember any of the things he related that we had done together. I know he wasn’t delusional because some vague stirrings in my brain told me that he was legit.

I’m just rambling. Forgetting to publicize the news of Ross Church’s centennial got me thinking: &uot;What the devil is wrong with you?&uot; The memory thing has something to do with it and I very much regret not being able to remember things because I’ve met some very interesting people (I think) during the course of my life and I have completely forgotten some fun and exciting things I did.

But the memory thing is not really what has me irritated with myself. Basically, the folks in Ross trusted me to do something I told them I would do. I violated their trust. That is inexcusable. For me, trust is akin to faith for most people. Telling the truth is important. Fulfilling obligations is important. Being a man of my word is important – and that doesn’t mean quibbling about whether I said, &uot;I promise&uot;.

Members of the church have been calling folks and the word has gotten out without me. But if I had done my part, maybe a person or two they hadn’t been able to contact would have known about this before the last minute.

Anyway, I apologize for being a dunderhead and for proving myself to be untrustworthy. This is not something I will forget.