The child was staring at me, chewing french fries, turned seated in a chair, not minding his family. I couldn’t help myself.
“Hey fella,” I said softly, mostly mouthing. “Do you know me?”
The child was affectless, and he kept staring. He brought a french fry to his mouth, but kept it closed, and deliberately, he dropped the french fry on the floor. The boy then turned to his mother, and grabbed her on the shoulder. She minded him with a look, smiled and resumed conversing with the adults at the table.
“Take one of the selfies, it will last longer.” I said under my breath, and laughed. The kid gave me a squint, as if he were offended, and then turned away. I didn’t think he could hear me.
It’s not like I meant the kid any grief, I just had thought maybe somebody had pointed me out to him.
I finished my mcflurry, glancing at the tables and the line at the registers, watching for someone possible — anyone old enough that they might remember who I was and what I did. I hadn’t been pointed out in public in, ages it seemed, and this was exciting enough now to say deja vu. I wanted it to happen. For old time sake if for nothing else.
Ultimately, I would catch the boy outside the door.
“Hey, there, kid,” I said. The boy spun around and regarded me.
I asked him outright. Why would he, sure, but I was compelled. “Do you know who I am?”
The kid nodded. I shrugged. I didn’t buy it, and I was gonna say something else,– ask the boy a question, one that would prove it with an answer, but I didn’t. I said, “You know beyond your years.”
To this the kid nodded again. As I’d figured him to do. See. As I told you. Slow or something, this kid, or who knows what his problem is. “You like politics,” I said. “Where’s your parents?”
“Toby.” Is called from behind me.
The softest name I’ve ever heard. Toby. It was his mother calling. The boy’s informant on nothing, apparently, and who had me wonder if even she knew who I was. The kid stepped away and headed to his mother. The woman looked at me.
Fuck it, I decided. I was just gonna roll with this, — I put on the old man face. “Your son knows his local history,” I said, with a heavy air of joy.
She smirked at this, disbelievingly, and looked in at her son. “Really.” She asked him. “What do you know, Toby?”
I tossed my head back, wanting to sigh. This woman was clueless. I really had become forgotten. She was still looking at the boy, waiting for him to speak. “I was the mayor!” I said.
The woman looked back me, now a bit razzled, “Oh, dear,” she said.
Now I felt like a jackass. The kid nodded. I nodded him back. “In the twenties,” I said. “2022 through 2026. I was the mayor of this city.”
The woman hmmd. “Ah,” she said. And with nothing else to offer me: “Well. –I’m from Georgia.” As if this could be relevant. I felt her, though. It was sensible enough. I suppose.
This woman could have thought I was a diddler.
Her kid. Staring at me, chewing fries, nodding to anything he was presented with — He had gotten me too excited. Yeah. No one out here would recognize me.
I don’t get noticed anymore. Decades have passed. My contemporaries, even. –Most have passed. I’m an old ass man, now. That’s who I am. An old ass man. The days of me as mayor are dead and gone.