Memory darts streak right to the area of your brain that bring a moment, event, person, or emotion to your conscious mind…full blown. Sometimes I can even throw a memory dart at you…like this:
Remember your first kiss? How about your favorite childhood toy? Quick... think of a song you used to know and love. See? Memory Darts don’t fiddle around the edges of recall like a word almost on the tip of your tongue. Memory Darts find the bullseye, almost without effort.
I had a Memory Dart moment while watching two Comedians talk on Netflix. One of them said his big break came when he did a bit about “Company.” That dart flung itself with glee into my past. Immediately images of plastic pathways on the floors over carpets, pathways removed when “Company” came over. Beautifully decorated Living Rooms were off limits to all the younger members of the Family and their friends.That room (or rooms) were only open when “Company” came over.
“Company” meant serving good food, getting out the good china, polishing the silver that your Mom got for her wedding present, and maybe, just maybe, even cake or ice cream after dinner.
“Get out the good silver for me, we are having Company tonight.”
You would reach under the China cabinet to pull out the large lacquered box with the beautiful wood or pearl inlays on it. When you opened it, there were all the silver cutlery pieces; knives, forks, spoons, ladles etc...nestled in red (sometimes green) velvet. It might have been a Wedding Gift, or more likely when I was a kid, an heirloom passed down for generations. It was only taken out for Special Occasions ...and when Company came over.
Company was welcomed, looked forward to, and embraced. Only the best you had was good enough when “Company” came over.
I had not heard the word “Company” used like that in decades. It brought back so many memories of my childhood. Sometimes, at my friends houses, even the couches, tables, and chairs in the Living Room, or Sitting Room were off limits unless Company came over.
I don’t know how many times my friends and I would drool over fresh baked cookies, or cupcakes, only to find out they were for Company, and not us lowly peons who lived here every day. LOL Sometimes, when Company came over, we weren’t invited. It was a gathering of Adult friends, or siblings old enough to show some class and raise a pinky finger when sipping tea. All proper and stuffed up.
I remember having to clean the house to a level that a Marine Drill Sergeant would have granted a 48 hour Pass (Off Base!) after inspecting our work.
“Why do we have to clean so much Mommy?”
“Oh. All right then. I see.”
That dart led to this one: “Swell.”
Yep. A one word dart.
When I was a kid, when someone asked you : “How are you doing?” You could -and often did- answer with: “I’m swell.” The President of the United States told the whole country we were doing “Swell” in a speech he gave. When you got a gift your friends would say: “Oh, that’s swell.”
“I think that girl likes you.”
“Oh, That would be swell.”
I haven’t heard the word “Swell” in a much longer time than the word “Company.” Only the Ocean, bruises and bloated things “Swell” nowadays.
As is often the case with Memory Darts, their sharp points dig deep into your heart for those early signs of puppy love, first loves, and true loves. When I was little, and girls were just slightly taller boys who dressed better- puberty established its first blushes by having a couple “Go Steady”, get “Pinned” or “Keyed.”
My older sisters who went together with a boy in the Forties, they got “pinned”. A small pin on a lapel, collar, or sweater, let everyone know they were not available for dating. They were “serious.” The next generation got “Keyed”. Skating parties (Roller Skating - not Ice) were all the rage back then. More popular even than a “Sock Hop” after the Football or Basketball Games. Skating Parties happened every Saturday.
Couples would prove their fidelity by giving the other person the key to their skates. Girls would hang that key around their neck with pride. He couldn’t skate without it, for he couldn’t adjust his skates. She couldn’t skate without her Key either. A wonderful talisman of “true Love” and faithfulness.
By the Time I got to Eighth Grade, boys and girls on the brink of puberty and love, went “Steady”. Usually word of mouth was enough to enforce the: “ I am off limits... I have a boyfriend/girlfriend”. Some wanted a more tangible symbol, so a ring was put on the girl’s finger wrapped in colored yarn to keep it on her slender hands. The guy would be proud when you noticed the absence of his Class Ring.
Breaking up, while emotionally ravaging, was a simple act: you just gave back the pin, key, or ring. That made it both official, and final.
I have to go now. Company’s coming. I have to take all the dust covers off, get down the good china, and open the drawer with the good silver in it. And put out towels that match in the bathroom.