Second-Hand Past

By Abigail Thomas

This virus is a dark reminder of how crucial it is that we take care of ourselves and one another. We are all pretty fragile beings, after all. Always have been.”—Abigail Thomas

The reason I fled the memoir workshop last week with the air of something so important that it couldn’t wait, a crisis, maybe, and sped off into the living room, was so pathetic and embarrassing that if it weren’t also funny I’d never bring it up. And it’s got me wondering why pathetic is diluted (or enriched) by this hint of the comic, the suggestion, almost, of contempt, because pathos can still hold its water. And this brings up irony being (among other things) an end in itself, because of the moment when it clicks, and you feel complicit, sort of like getting a pun, only better, and venture no further into the shadows with questions.

I’m pretty sure nobody was disturbed by my exit, the workshop running itself, everyone talking about their old days, growing up in Woodstock in the sixties and seventies; one of us had told of running into Jimi Hendrix who out of kindness had asked her and her gaggle of friends if they needed a place to stay, and she burst out with, “Oh no, we live here,” and has regretted it ever since.

This made me wish I’d grown up in Woodstock and had that life and those memories instead of my own (pathetic). But I do have one claim to fame, albeit once removed, so I jumped up to google the Kinks, because I always forget the guy’s name, although I remember his face very well and the way he sang “Lola,” my god he was so cute, that gap between his teeth, rolling the L’s around with his tongue, (and if you don’t know the Kinks I have nothing to say to you) and once I found his name I was intending to casually sidle up next to the Woodstock stories or possibly top them, saying (and yes, I get the irony): 

“My daughter slept with Ray Davies.”