Sometimes I think about my stories, and how I’ll be remembered in the future. Life is long, but other people’s lives are infinite. As my friends grow older and have kids, it makes me wonder what their life will be like. Their future.
I remember back to my childhood, and I do my best to remember the friends of my parents. I remember quite a few of them still, and I remember the ones that paid special attention to me the most — obviously. Mrs. Broomhead – her real name, always had green seedless grapes at her house. We never had grapes. The Hills, The Hunts, The other Hunts and Vera MacDonald were the ones I remember most. They were all nice to me.
When I’m with my friends who have kids, I do my best to include them, be friendly with them, and be social. To them, I’m Jeff, or even uncle Jeff. In fact — no kids call me Mr. Goebel. In my entire life, I can’t recall anybody calling me Mr. Goebel, except when calling me from the waiting room, or next up in a queue somewhere. All the kids today know me as Jeff. It doesn’t seem weird at all, except when I reflect. I always called people Mr. and Mrs, while growing up. Even today I have customers I consider friends – but I call them Mr. Cooper and Mr. Harris.
Comedians have taught us, to be remembered, we need a hook. Something that sticks out in our memories that identifies one person from another.
I watched a movie by Dave Chappel once, called HALF BAKED, and a particular scene in it struck a cord with me, and I use the philosophy learned in life. In this one scene, Dave enters a bodega (variety store) where the counter staff sells weed if the guy recognizes you. Dave realized the easiest way to be recognized every time, is to do something crazy. In the movie, I believe he enters the place and pulls his pants down. The counter staff shows a face of recognition and sell him his weed.
I have used this concept in real life, to be recognized by others. There are occasionally times when it may be important for a stranger to recognize you later. My “hook”. When I greet a stranger in a situation I know I’ll see again, I’ll often put my hands to my ears with my fingers out-stretched, wiggling. I say; Hey! Remember me as the guy who did this. They give me an odd look at first, but hours or days later, I can re-do the same gesture and they immediately remember me. In most cases, it’ll make them smile – which for me is a bonus. I love when I can make somebody smile.
When I am with the children of my friends, I wanted to do something that would stick in their memories and become my hook for them. Even if my name wasn’t remembered, I’d be the friend of their parents that pulled my pants down every time they saw me.
Ok – that specific idea would be bad. It would probably get me arrested, but conceptually, I did something that would be remembered just as well, but without labeling me a pervert. A hook that made them smile, and made me stay in their stories for years to come.
My version went a little further, and over the years, I’ve started using my own extended Hellloooo when greeting people, especially kids. My “Helllloooo” is spoken almost as if you were trying to impersonate the Queen of England in a Monty-Python-esque mocking British accent. At the same time, you swing both arms straight up like you had a gun pointed at you. This has become my official “kids greeting” with the children. Well Hellllooooooo!
Whenever I meet the kids of my friends now, we all do it. It took quite a few visits. I was actually surprised at how many times I had to do it for them before it became an expected part of our visit. It was over a year before they started doing it back, and expecting it. It made me very happy. Now, whenever we meet, we all swing our arms in the air and scream Hellllloooooo. I know this is how I’ll be remembered.
That makes me happy.
I look forward to the future, and seeing how long it stays. When they are 18, will they still remember me, and greet me with arms held high? I think they will. I hope they will.
If I am long dead, and my name comes up in conversation somehow. Will they throw their arms up and scream; Helllllloooooo? I think maybe.
That makes me smile.