Call of the wandering boy

“Cool-guy?” I called out, looking around. Where was my boyfriend? He was standing right next to me a minute ago.

People turned to see what I was yelling for. I know. I was causing a commotion at the garden festival and they wanted to know why. I yelled again, not knowing how else to find him.

I looked back the way I had come. Ok. Blue shirt. He’s wearing a blue shirt. And he’s tall with a closely shaven beard. I know what he looks like because I’ve memorized his attributes. Now if only I could recognize him when I see him again.

“COOL-GUY?”

Not one of the curious people who turned when I called was tall with a blue shirt. Great. This is the one time not having a visual memory annoys me the most. When my boyfriend might be three feet from me and I can’t find him. I slowly scanned the crowd for people wearing blue shirts. Remind me to dress him in a long, dotted caftan with a ten-gallon hat next time.

I leaned against a pole. There were jillions of people walking around the garden show, so finding my man was going to be a chore. Oh. I know. He could find me. His visual memory was perfect. And he knew the moment he stepped away, my brain promptly forgot what he looked like. I couldn’t remember faces at all. My epileptic seizures had burned out my visual memory long ago which made all people look basically the same. If three men with closely shaven beards walked up to me and they were all wearing blue shirts, I would have to wait for a voice to be able to tell which one was my boyfriend.

Oh. Sure. I know. My neurologist constantly reminds me to switch to auditory when I lose someone in a crowd. I keep begging my doctor for more practical help. Isn’t there a drug I can take to help me locate my boyfriend in a crowd? Something that would make our magnetic pull an optical reality? But my sweet neurologist doesn’t seem to understand that auditory doesn’t help locate a missing man in a blue shirt. I wonder if I could learn some kind of echolocation like bats use?

I tensed. I hate losing Cool-guy. If I could find him right now, before he knew I was lost, he’d never know my disability had separated us yet again. I started the nonchalant scan. He couldn’t have gone too far.

Sure. There might be methods for us to find each other quickly. Everyone and his brother had suggestions. At a recent party several of my closest friends excitedly gathered around and shared their top three ideas for me finding Cool-guy in a crowd.

“Ok.” Pete said. “The top three ways to find each other when lost in a crowd.”

I looked at Cool-guy. Was it too late to opt out of this game?

“Number three: Use an electric dog collar that can send out small shocks.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” I tried to back away. “You’re trying to be funny, right?”

Pete grabbed my hand. “Think about it.” He said, excitedly. “You could press a button and send out a SHOCK to let Cool-guy know you’re looking for him.”

“Do you have anything kinder?” Cool-guy asked.

“You could hold the collar in your hand.” Pete continued. “Think about it.”

“Is number two any better?” I asked. “I need a drink. Number one has me craving alcohol.”

Angela smiled. “Number two: Carry a flag around and wave it back and forth when you get lost.”

“No.” I said. “Everyone will think I’m leading a parade. You guys are scaring me. I thought your top three were going to be a joke. You’re serious? Could you lighten up?”

“We won’t need a flag.” Cool-guy added.

“Ok.” Pete said. “The number one suggestion for identifying your man when you don’t have a visual memory…”

I cut in. “I’m thirsty.”

“Me too.” Cool-guy said. “Let’s find a drink.”

Pete continued. “Have him wear a hat with a big X on top. And whenever you can’t find him, climb onto something tall and look DOWN.”

Cool-guy took my hand. “White or red wine?”

“Vodka.” I said. “Straight up.”

“Twist?”

“Already had one, but thanks.”

Cool-guy led me to a quiet spot in a garden. “I’ve never lost you yet. I’m not worried about it.”

“Me neither.” I lied.

Ok. That was last month. Now. Here I was wondering how long it would be before he realized I didn’t stop to look at the street musician or art exhibit or whatever grabbed his attention. How long until he would retrace his steps to find me? Because if he didn’t I might have to live here forever in this garden festival and get a job watering the grass, because they’d never trust me to go near the flowers.

Maybe I should have paid attention to where we left the car. We had absolutely no plan for finding each other. Wonder if they have laws against adults showing up at the missing children’s tent. What other option would I have?

I tried to even out my breathing. Ok. Enough of all this worrying. He’d figure it out. Eventually.

I heard a high pitched call. “Who-dee-hoo” It was a human voice that was mimicking a bird’s call. I heard it again. And again.

Hey. Was that Cool-guy’s voice?

I heard the call again. “Who-dee-hoo. Who-dee-hoo.” I turned towards the voice and saw a tall man in a blue shirt with a close shaven beard waving his arms back and forth over his head. I laughed and walked towards him.

“Who-dee-hoo.”

As I made my way through the crowd, I noticed not one person around us turned to see where the noise was coming from. Couldn’t they hear him?

“Who-dee-hoo.” Cool-guy called again.

I laughed my way up to him. “Where’d you get the wild call?”

“Barney Fife. He used it once during a steak-out.”

“Really?”

“Yup.” He handed me the freshly squeezed lemonade he had stopped to buy. “Barney said when the bad guys were coming, they would use the secret call, ‘Who-dee-hoo.” It worked for them, so I figured it would work for me, too.”

I laughed at our new secret code.

Later we stopped for a sorbet. I turned after buying mine and Cool-guy was gone. Where was he? Ok. Fine. Blue shirt. Tall man. Close shaven beard. Where was he? I didn’t see him. I exhaled slowly and shook my head fast. Again? Twice in one day? Again?

“Who-dee-hoo.” Came the call from across the street.

I turned and saw a man in a blue shirt waving one arm over his head. I laughed. How could I get mad at a man with such ridiculous methods? Especially when nobody else was paying attention to all the hooting going on. Really. This call was going to work. We had found our way.

As I got closer, I heard what sounded like an echo. “Who-dee-hoo. Who-dee-hoo.”

“OhmyGod.” I said, kissing his cheek. “Someone has stolen our secret call.”

Cool-guy smiled. “Listen to this.” He called out, “Who-dee-hoo.”

The birds in the trees repeated the call back to him. “Who-dee-hoo. Who-dee-hoo.”

“You know.” He said. “Maybe I’d better be careful. When I step away and send the secret call, those birds could really mess us up by sending out false signals. We’ll get all turned around.”

“I like the hooting.” I said. “It’s better than hollering. But maybe we should match it with the electronic dog collar. I think a little shock therapy might help you remember not to wander.”

“Bad idea.” He said, handing me my second freshly squeezed lemonade of the day. “It could cut down on your lemonade supply.”



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