The Seventh Street Sandwich Shop

Nervous seeing an old friend

for the first time in several years,

his mind raced as conversation

emerged fitfully through jokes

and forced laughter over a half-

salad and cup of soup at the

Seventh Street Sandwich Shop.

Nervous, he had always wonder-

ed about his acceptance stemming

from insecure days as a half-

orphan with the other half

being an out-to-lunch mother

just before transferring to

the college of original choice

that had to be delayed be-

cause of money issues back

home. Before him sat a for-

mer fraternity brother whose

approval he had always sought

and which always seemed just

out of reach; this friend sat

experiencing senior moments

trying to remember names

from his 50th high school

reunion. It didn’t go un-

noticed on the man; but the

former frat friend unexpectedly

asked a question of recent per-

sonal history and the man’s mind

went as blank as a brand new, un-

opened Blue Book at a senior final

exam with graduation hanging in

the balance. His ears rang.

His temples throbbed. The

buzz became a roar. He looked

at his friend and saw his mouth

move but heard nothing.

Now afraid the spoon would

take on a life of its own in

his uncontrollably shaking

left hand and slap the soup

all over the table and his

frat brother’s shirt, he left

it sit. “What is Wicker Park!”

he shouted in a shrill shriek 

as if he were competing for

top prize on Jeopardy and

perhaps he was in his own

way. More controlled, “It

was Wicker Park,” the bari-

tone bellowed. Heads turned.

The memory loss didn’t go

un-noticed. It was nerves,

dammit, he thought, but now

his frat friend probably was

estimating how long before

the man was moved into the

Alzheimer’s unit. They

hugged and said goodbye

and on his way home he

stopped at the local grocery

store for a few items. Thank

heaven, his wife had given

him a list. He saw another

old frat friend hunched over

staring blankly into the

deli case and who then shuffled

gingerly on down to the

braunschweiger.  He noticed

that the friend’s skin looked

a lot like the processed food

the frat friend was eyeing. He

rushed to the wine aisle, grabbed

an inexpensive pinot grigio and

hurried home to the safety and

security of what he was coming to

understand, more and more, 

was only his temporary domicile.

 

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