(than we ever learned in school)
- Who needs you?
I’m a single guy who mostly sticks to himself, so I don’t think anyone actually needs me, but since I try to be the here-if-you-need-me guy, the person who needs me changes on the reg and doesn’t come around very often. Similarly, I don’t think my parents need me, but they need me to be ready when they need me. I think this counts. I kept myself away from people for a year in case they should need me. Isn’t this a great Leo Sayer song?
- Who runs to you?
Everyone’s mentioning their pets in response to this question, and it’s a good one. My parents’ dog gets pretty psyched to see me when I go over. They say he recognizes the sound of my car coming up the hill (much to my embarrassment, it’s a very loud car) and runs to the fence to watch me pull into the driveway. Then he meets me halfway down the stair as I’m coming up to the living room. There are worse ways to be greeted than excitedly by a dog, I tell you.
- Who forgets you?
I don’t know what it means that, while people may forget my name, they seldom forget me. There’s a guy on this island whom I run into every five years or so, and he calls my name and says, “You still don’t know who I am, do you?” And I have to admit I don’t, but could he please tell me? And he never does. Whoever it is, he’s known me since we were kids, so I probably haven’t forgotten him: I just don’t recognize him because while I almost never forget a name, I forget a face very, very often. Ohhh I just thought of a good group of people. My students’ parents. Which is more than fair. I think we forget each other. To them, I’m just one of a long string of teachers they met maybe once a year. To me, they’re quite often more types than they are people, which isn’t fair, but I suppose I’m just a type to them as well. It’s okay. We know each other when we have to know each other, and then we forget each other. One parent I have not forgotten recently announced her candidacy for governor of Hawaii. We interacted a lot for a few years when I taught her son — she even sat next to me at another student’s graduation dinner. I had a bit of a thing for her and still do. I wonder if she’s forgotten me.
- Who keeps you hangin’ on?
People are answering this question as if it’s asking who keeps you from losing your grip, which is fine. But I think the lyrics to the song have more to do with keeping someone on the hook. Like, get out of my life, why don’t you? You’re just keeping me on the hook and I’m ready to move along. To which my answer is perhaps nobody. I’m the one who can’t let go of people; they don’t have to keep me hanging on because I can’t seem to loosen my grip. That friend Ali whose text messages helped me get through the first year of the pandemic has ceased to communicate with me altogether, and I miss her, even though I pretty much know it was too volatile a friendship for either of us. I’ve backed off completely, knowing she won’t respond well to my reaching out again, but I still have wisps of hope that we can be friends.
- Who’s watching you?
As one respondent pointed out, when you journal online as I do, you don’t know who’s watching, and I’m intentionally pretty visible on different channels. I keep all my social media accounts wide open too. It’s just a life I want to live, for now, which means I don’t know who’s reading what I write, or looking at my photos, or judging me for the music I listen to or the films I like. I’m sure there are more than a few people who note every error I make in spelling or punctuation, since I’m famously (but really only supposedly) a language snob, taking wicked glee in my hypocritical ignorance. It’s fine. I hope they also see a person who’s trying his best not to reach for that other half of the pizza too.