Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Nostalgia week at What The Hell


Welcome to nostalgia week at What The Hell. It’s not nostalgia in the sense of, “Gee, I miss The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Nor, now that I’m a cranky old man, is it the kind like, “Things were better back then. In my day …”

No, these are just your plain old white bread recollections about particular people who have popped into my head, essentially uninvited. Three women. Girls, to be accurate, I guess, since we were all pretty young when we rubbed elbows.

Two of them were romantic interests that never got off the ground. Those fantasy girls that you’re infatuated with and can’t stop thinking about, who are either oblivious to you or cruelly flirty with no intention of letting you see them naked. As a budding young fiction writer, I found it easy to write life narratives involving them, lengthy epics that took us through all of life’s topographies, with or without children. You can imagine that they linger in the mind as the ones who got away. But something about them abides in me for more than that, since my narratives were really very detailed. I write novels, remember.

The other was actually my girlfriend for two years, my first sexual conquest, and, ultimately, my first real heartbreak. No, we never forget that one, and to be totally honest I haven’t engaged in a lot of fantasies about what it would have been like to marry her and live a life. The bad taste left in my mouth from our breakup made that unappealing. I’ve just always wondered whatever became of her.

When you indulge in a personal nostalgia trip you have to be ready for some revelations that might shock or disturb. Ideas that come from inside you. Understandings that you might be remembering people inaccurately, or that you weren’t as meaningful to them as they were to you. You might question the quality of the island you find yourself on now. Did you try hard enough? Are there any just deserts on your plate? If there was a fork in the road, where was it? Did you even notice? Or did you just drive past it without much thought of the consequences?

A tricky substance, nostalgia. It’s sticky, like bread dough, but it can’t be so easily rolled into a shape you like. Soon it’s all over your hands. You wish you could put it aside, but it won’t let go. You have to get on with things, but here’s this blob of tacky goo all over the place and it’s starting to get into delicate places that won’t be easy to clean. In your sleep, afterward, it’ll come right back and hijack dreams.

That’s why I go ahead and give into it every so often. It’s like a lost weekend. Succumb and be done with it.

Tomorrow’s Girl No. 1, then the other two, and then a wrap-up post, and hopefully by next week I’ll be able to pay some final attention to 2016 before it slinks out the door.

13 comments on “Nostalgia week at What The Hell

  1. kingmidget
    November 28, 2016

    I sometimes wonder if my desire to know what happened to the girls of my past means there is something wrong with me. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 28, 2016

      Well, I know there’s something wrong with me, so …

  2. 1WriteWay
    November 28, 2016

    I wonder if it’s a guy thing? I don’t wax nostalgic for old boyfriends. In nearly all cases, regardless of who was responsible for the ultimate breakup, I might look back, shudder slightly, and then feel overwhelming relief for how things did turn out. Of course, given that all but one or two of my past relationships were abusive on some level, it should be no surprise that I’m not nostalgic 😉

    That said, I do wonder (sometimes at length) at how things might have turned out if I had accepted a ride home from the sweet bearded poet in my college literary guild that one afternoon over 30 years ago. At the least, he might have helped me avoid the egoistical, emotionally abusive jerk I wound up with a few weeks later.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 28, 2016

      Could definitely be a guy thing, or at least a poetic guy thing. 😉 I don’t blame you for jettisoning memories of abusive jerks, though. Who needs that on board? But I bet everyone has a handful of formers or close calls that they wonder about, what-if-wise. It’s all in the timing …

      • 1WriteWay
        November 28, 2016

        Indeed, and that particular “what-if” takes me back to when I was fairly innocent 😉

  3. John W. Howell
    November 28, 2016

    You conjured up the remembrance of the last look I had of the one who was the love of my life. (or was supposed to be) She bounced our ring off the hood of my car and never looked back. I guess it was asking her to help push the car out of the parking place that finally did it. It had no reverse gear….well you get the idea.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 28, 2016

      That’s a real heartbreaker, John. You probably also had a nasty ding on the hood of the car on top of everything else!

      • John W. Howell
        November 28, 2016

        It was a 1958 Alpha Romero Giulietta
        750F Spider Veloce. Yup there was a scratch in the black paint for all time..

      • Kevin Brennan
        November 28, 2016

        Don’t tell me you still own it … That’d be sick.

      • John W. Howell
        November 29, 2016

        It would be sick. Unfortunately not.

  4. Phillip McCollum
    November 28, 2016

    Ahh, I too am a victim of the nostalgic fog that comes creeping through every once in awhile. It’s occasionally a fun indulgence, but like junk food, I find it best left out of the house because I do have a sweet tooth…

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 28, 2016

      So right. If you buy a box of Ding Dongs every week, they’re gonna get eaten.

  5. pinklightsabre
    November 28, 2016

    Nice set-up and imagery with the dough, I like it. Thanks for the teaser.

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