Kevin Frisch: If I knew now who I knew then ...

Kevin Frisch

Talk about timing.

Last week's column was about the impressions we leave — often unintentionally — as we go through life. How some saying or action you may not even remember will be the one memory that sticks with a former classmate, coworker or even a stranger in line at a movie.

So get this: I'm playing at a club last Friday night with my band, Superfluous Lewis. We play punk waltzes and we're the most popular combo on Nicholson Street — a Rochester road where three of the five band members live.

We had the crowd hopping; not just because we performed flawless renditions of some of our big numbers, like the Black and Blue Danube, but because we were accompanied by — and this is true — half a dozen belly dancers.

There's something about belly dancers that maintains an audience's attention. Not to mention a bass player's.

Amid this cacophony and chaos emerged a name from the past.

I was taking the air between sets when the keyboard player's wife informed me her friend recognized me from college. She told me the woman's name and, sure enough, I remembered it immediately.

I wasn't as quick to put a face to it, however.

After playing some more, I went over and said hello. We exchanged a few pleasantries but I couldn't quite match the attractive woman in front of me with the student from back in our college days.

It was loud and I had some friends waiting for me, so we didn't spend much time catching up. But I was tempted to half kiddingly say, "Gee, I wrote a column this week about how we never know what memories we leave in our past. I didn't do anything embarrassing when we were in school that you still remember, did I?"

Thank the heavens I didn't say this. Because her response would have been, "Only the handcuff incident."

It's true. Humiliating, but true.

It was only in a loud nightclub, surrounded by belly dancers and distracted by a performance, that I would not have remembered this particular college colleague. We lived in the same dorm and I had a huge crush on her. She didn't know this because every time I got near enough to talk to her, my heart palpitated, my IQ dropped about 70 points and I lost the ability to conduct rudimentary conversation.

Which is probably what led to the aforementioned incident.

There was a costume party in our dorm, and I was dressed as one of the Blues Brothers, my briefcase handle securely handcuffed to my wrist. (Actually, I couldn't find a briefcase, so I had to use my empty typewriter case. It kind of worked, although I lost first place to two guys who strung a rope between their upper torsos, pinned some underpants to it and announced they were a clothes line.)

In any event, at one point the crushable young lady from the second floor arrived. Suffering my customary mental depletion, I freed my "briefcase" and handcuffed her wrist to mine. I said something cute like, "You won't get the key until you agree to go out with me."

She didn't need it. I'm reasonably certain she would have broken loose just as quickly had the handcuffs been real, and not plastic imitations.

I'm happy to say that, all these years later, my declarations of affection have gotten somewhat subtler and I'm able to retain a fair portion of my IQ in the presence of the fairer sex.

But it was a curious, coincidental turn of events.

Just two days earlier, I had written a column wondering about "the impressions we leave on others' lives — particularly those to whom we are not close."

By the end of last Friday night, I was wondering a little less.

Kevin Frisch is managing editor of the Daily Messenger in Canandaigua, N.Y. Contact him at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 257, or via e-mail at KFrisch@MPNewspapers.com.