Savage Enterprises Publishing
Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word

Losing Nostalgia — (August 1997) Have you ever sat idly in your mind, watching scenery scroll by your eyes while music bounces around in your skull? Lost in thought, not really realizing where you are or where you're going, just moving forward through sheer instinct?

And then, something jolts you. It's like the loud slamming of a door. And you're positive it's coming from the inside back of your skull. And like the proverbial bolt out of the blue, you realize, sickeningly, that a part of your childhood has been irrevocably shattered.

You continue to gaze outwardly, but are completely focused internally. You see scenes from a time oh-so-long-ago. You hear and feel everything you did that day or week or month. And you know you're experiencing them again for the last time. Those memories will never again feel this pure. This happy. This special. Where you looked upon them once in happy nostalgia, you understand that from then forward these would be viewed in regretful nostalgia. Regret that you'll never experience those selfsame emotions again. Regret that you'll never again be able to view the world with the same innocence. The same love. The same respect.

The memories are still there, but they're a little diluted now. There's a small numbing that comes with opening yourself to them again.

You try to outrun them. You push your foot a little harder against the accelerator. You swerve from one lane to the next, trying to get to where you're going faster than you need to; feeling the grip of the emotions on your neck. They want to break free and flood your senses. You bring your head forward, imagining the hand clawing at you, trying to hold on. A stop sign. You barely stop. A yellow light. You speed through.

Traffic. Red light. You're stuck.

You let out your breath without realizing you'd actually been holding it. You run a hand through your hair as if that'll wipe away the heat you feel escaping from your head.

You sink into your chair and accept it. There's nothing more you can do. There's nothing you can change. You have to accept it. Accept it or sink deeper into your own private nightmare. Therein lies madness. You know madness. You've shaken hands with it as you've stood over it's ledge and peered over into the abyss. You're not in the mood for *that*. There's no joy there. Yes, there's no sadness either, but I'd rather be a person who feels pain than a person who feels nothing at all. Pain lets you know you're still alive. Pain gives you focus, something to battle.

The light turns green. You begin to move forward. The day has just begun and demands your attention.

Silently, wistfully, you focus on your destination, plot a course, set a speed, and drive...

Now before you call for the men in the white coats to come and take me away, let me bring you up to speed. Thursday July 31, 1997. I just filled my car with gas and glanced at the morning's headline while I paid the cashier. "It's Over!" cried the headlines. It was about Johnny Farago.

"Who?" I hear many voices cry out in unison. Johnny Farago. He was a french singer who, I guess, could be called an Elvis Impersonator. He sang Elvis in tribute to The King. When Elvis passed away, Johnny's star began to shine a little brighter in town. My mom liked him. I liked him because of what he did for Elvis.

Back up a little.

As with most people, I have certain limited memories of my childhood. I remember the harsh school years, I remember the peer pressures, I remember being hated and being friendless. But I also remember the many, many, hours I spent with my mom watching Elvis movies.

Sunday afternoons, CFCF 12 had their afternoon features and whenever Elvis was on, my mom and I were there to watch. The programming director was a big fan, too, so whenever an Elvis occasion came by, he would treat the viewers with Elvis double-features for weeks. I watched them over and over with my mom. Oftentimes, we'd also watch them when they played on the French stations.

In case you hadn't guessed by now, Elvis was a big part of my childhood. I loved the music, I loved the movies, and I still do. And regardless what the naysayers preach about television, it was tv that brought my mom and me (and many times my dad as well) together for a couple of hours every now and again to watch and enjoy a movie together.

After Elvis' death, as I mentioned, Johnny had a lot of airplay both on the radio and on television. And every now and again over the years I'd hear about him and what he was up to. I got older and Sunday afternoons became time to run out and do things with my friends. I don't believe I've watched a Sunday afternoon feature in a long, long time. But I always remember watching those movies with my mom, just as I remember watching the religious movies (Ben-Hur, Jesus of Nazareth, The Ten Commandments, The Robe, etc.) with my mom and dad all the time. Those were nice, family times.

Anyhow, Johnny fell into a coma on Tuesday night, and passed on Wednesday night, making the paper on Thursday. And as I drove into work, I suddenly realized how much I missed "hanging out" with my mom and dad. I missed the shared moments. I missed the laughter.

Life has a way of getting too complicated too quickly when you start to reach a certain age. And then you start spending all your energy simply trying to keep UP with everything around you. And you don't even realize what it is you're losing.

Reading about Johnny's death did that to me. And I'm lucky because my folks are both still alive and we can still share some laughter and times. Just as I spend many many hours watching Disney movies with James (and am sure will do with Melyssa when she gets a little older) to the point that we both have them memorized. But I don't mind. We're building memories together as we share the music, the magic, and the laughter found in the Disney movies. Who knows, maybe I'll live long enough to be able to do the same with my grandkids.

And maybe when James is a little older, he and I, and my mom and dad, can sit down on a Sunday afternoon every now and again, and enjoy an Elvis movie. I think we'd all like that. Johnny and Elvis, too.

(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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