So, what happened was...
The year was 1986. Having been left behind by friends and girlfriends who had gone off to Real College, I was living with the 'rents, attending Montgomery Community College and working at Erol's Video Club in Rockville, MD. I was working open-to-close (we called it "AFD") at the tiny Store #6 on a Saturday in March. On the 30-minute parole I called break time, I scampered over to Yekta Deli for my lunch of Funyons and Cherry Coke. This routine was relatively new, thanks to the closure of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House, where I used to annoy the host/hostess by coming in only for to-go hush puppies.
It was when I reached into the fridge and pulled out my 16oz glass(!) bottle of (NEW!) Cherry Coke that it happened.
This post is going to be painfully short, thanks to the fleeting nature of what happened to me that afternoon. It's small and simple, yet unfathomably massive and complex. I had a spontaneous, overwhelmingly powerful revelation. Yeah - that kind of revelation.
There's a scene in one of Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide" books, in which an unremarkable young woman in an unremarkable café comes up with the simple, brilliant, perfect answer to the "ultimate question of life, the universe and everything," a notion that transcends religion and human existence as a whole -- only to be vaporized with the earth moments later to make way for a hyperspace bypass. That's how profound my revelation was. It was THE answer. It was as simple as "love each other," but way bigger, more complete. It was deep and clear and powerful and it shook me to my core.
I literally staggered to the cashier. I remember with photographic clarity the register's display of $2.65, and the black turtleneck the owner/manager was wearing. What I don't remember - at all - is the revelation itself.
I KNOW! How cruel is that? As suddenly as it had manifested itself, it vanished. The only thing sadder than the desperate deflation I felt at that moment is the fact that I am not making any of this up - including the fact that I actually went back into the deli a minute later and retraced my steps, up to and including going back to the soda refrigerator and chips rack and purchasing another Cherry Coke and Funyons. I was disconsolate for the rest of that weekend, and I couldn't articulate to anyone exactly why.
I had had it. It was simple and right and true and universe-changing, and it was in my head. And it was gone. Forever.
I have no doubt whatsoever that, had I been able to get to a piece of paper - or even a friendly ear - before that notion had left me, I would have been instrumental in the salvation of not only all humankind, but the planet itself. Such is the depth of my frustration and regret.
I had it. For just a second.
And I lost it.
It's still out there somewhere. I know that the odds against me finding it a second time are just silly, but someone else - maybe someone with a better short-term memory - can find it. I hope they do so. Like, soon.