"A white dress she had on... I only saw her for one second... but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl."
Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane
As I sat in dim art-house theaters, I used to think Mr. Bernstein was crazy, or perhaps Orson Welles was for giving him that outlandish monologue. But as I age, I'm either beginning to believe him, or going crazy myself.The sighting happened on one of my early single days of living alone, working odd hours at odder jobs. One Tuesday afternoon I was at the local chain supermarket filling my cart with impulse odds and ends the way we guys tend to, calling it 'grocery shopping.' As I pushed my cart around the end of an aisle at the back of the slightly tatty store I saw a slender lass with long brown hair. She was dressed in a white coat working the deli counter. She looked at me, smiled and asked, "May I help you?" Medical science will soon confirm that buried deep within each man's cerebral cortex is a synapse that fires when a particular woman appears. She is the mythic amalgam of mother, first crush, Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, perhaps with overtones of Playmate of the Year, I'm not sure. When her image is conducted down the optic nerve, this synapse triggers. Its firing causes the pituitary gland to tremble in a unique paroxysm, reserved for this occasion. The master gland then secretes a singular hormone. Part of its molecular structure is like morphine, another part binds specifically to the muscles in the tongue. Within a heartbeat this hormone was circulating in my bloodstream. I wanted to tell her that I needed no cold cuts sliced today. I opened my mouth and excitedly spoke forth, "Yaggla-glog." She smiled an understanding smile and I pushed my rattle-wheeled cart down the canned meats aisle. Not that I really wanted any Deviled Spam or Potted Meat. I just had to escape from the pain of my failure.The next Tuesday afternoon I was armed with a long list of unneeded deli meats to purchase. I had practiced this list a good while in front of a full-length mirror. But when I returned to the deli counter, she wasn't there. I've never seen her again. Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of her getting out of a car, or riding the opposing escalator, but it's never her. It's been two decades since that Tuesday and my mind still turns back to her at random moments. Love and fame are indeed fleeting as what's-his-name the poet said. Could I find her again? I don't know. If I were to go down to the police station and sit beside their artist to form a composite drawing of her, I know I couldn't. Her visage didn't register in my rational left brain. I couldn't quantify her height or describe the line of her nose. Her image is burned much deeper in my psyche, perhaps even at the genetic level. Yet, if I were to go to the other wing of the police station and look at a line-up (Police line-up? More likely to see her at a casting call for a re-make of Citizen Kane) I could pick her out in an instant, even out of ten thousand. I could point to her and say with absolute certainty, "Yaggla-glog."