I met Jay Karp at Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico in the late ’50’s. We hit it off right from the beginning, and became “best buddies.” We played on the same Little League team together (although he ‘played,’ and I just kept his seat warm for him) and we “explored’ the beach below the Officer’s Club – from one end to the other. Often when traveling the beach there would be a couple of alternative ways to go from one place to the other – the ‘easy’ way or the ‘challenging’ way. Jay often referred to the ‘easy’ way as the ‘woman’s way.’ Guess which one we always took? And which one do I continually take today?
Jay always talked about his hometown, Tampa, FL. I learned a great deal about Tampa on our trails. Anyway, one evening in 1986 or so, I ended up at McDill AFB, FL (just South of Tampa) on a cross-country mission. After I got to the O’Club, I decided to see if I could find Jay.
No ‘google’ in those days – just the phone book. And there he was! Oh, the excitement I felt as I dialed his number. I had “carried” Jay in my heart for almost 30 years!
When he answered I introduced myself – and he couldn’t remember me. Although I was able to “relate” a lot of stories for him, he couldn’t remember me… Damn!
Awkward! How do you back out of a call when you feel like “the Village Idiot?”
I apologized for bothering him, hung up and just stood there – crushed. Deflated. Then I went back into the bar – to escape the pain… but, it has not quite yet, gone away… As I ‘drank the pain away that night,’ I remember thinking, “Maybe I don’t exist…”
Today I know better, but it wasn’t easy that night…
Growing up with the military as parents, bosses, medical providers, food providers, library custodians and all the rest is a daunting task. I have met, more than once, the “Jay Karp” person in later years. I have been accused by my own family (mothers and sisters) and others of being a “Jay Karp” as to many events that supposedly happened in my life as a youth. I suspect that I simply “wiped out” portions of my life, because they were too painful.
It’s not a memory problem, it’s a psychological problem. We choose to wipe our slate clean for various reasons, and whole segments of our lives are simply gone from memory. Dad’s gone, dad does not have time for hunting, fishing, bowling, sports or anything else — he’s home and he’s gonna put that G@$ D@$ uniform on again and disappear once more. But while he’s home, he’s gonna take it out on me for every infraction I might have committed while he was gone. We, or at least I, had a defense — erase the whole thing. I think it is the Jay Karp Syndrome — but it worked to keep sanity in the horizon.
In this case you were not the Village Idiot. Jay was, he just didn’t know it. I know, I have been on both ends of these incidents, more than once. Yes, I have been a Jay Karp, and I have met more than one Jay Karp. I would not be hard on Jay Karp nor upon myself.
I too have been on both sides. I regularly search for long lost friends, many who made some impact on my life only to find they don’t remember me. And people have sought me out and I have no clue who they are. Then there have been those cases where I’ve not talked to somebody for 30 years and find them on facebook and it’s like we were never apart.
yes it hurts for a moment when they don’t remember me… but I can’t dwell on that and need to move my life forward, so I do.
Excellent introspective comments from both John and Steve; and ‘appreciated’ comments. I can relate to both observations, so I tend not to be so hard on myself as I once was. Sobriety has helped also! LOL…. Thanks guys!