• Fern

Barry is, as Barry Does

Have you ever had a name float through your life with intent, yet randomness? Float from the past like dust motes over your head on a sunny afternoon? The name may be insistent, though benign, thought provoking, while insignificant. It can be pervasive, like an apple scented autumn day, although meaningless. Could it cause you to suddenly ponder, albeit retrospectively? What’s it all about?

Such is the case with the name “Barry” and the remembrance of its insinuation into my life in the nineties; the beginning of “Barrys” in my life.

It began with an earworm of “Her Name was Lola, She was a Showgirl” Barry Manilow’s hit. A new friend of mine, forever enamored of “Barry” kept injecting Barry to the conversation, almost like an annoying subliminal ploy. We laughed about it. I was not a Manilow fan, but she so loves Barry, and still makes a point to remark how he kissed her on the cheek when she was in Las Vegas getting married and caught his show. She claims she didn’t wash her cheek for a week (I doubt this as she has a flawless complexion and has always taken great care with her skin.)

Then she loved Barry White, sending me taped cassettes after I moved upstate. I mean, he’s great, but enough already. I didn’t have a thing for him like she did. Was the “Barry” name just a coincidence, I wondered? Or, more to the point, was her tongue firmly planted in cheek, looking to taunt me?

Next, she tried to resurrect the Bee Gees into my musical repertoire, because of Barry Gibb, but I had to put my foot down somewhere!

There was a telling incident when she and another friend came up to visit me. The three of us stopped by a local coffee/sandwich spot (which shall go unnamed, to protect the identity of yet another Barry, who owned the place.) They both decided this Barry had puppy dog eyes and couldn’t wait to go back the next morning for bagels and coffee…which they did…in their pajamas! Did I mention it was February and they wore their parkas and boots and trotted down the side of Route 212 to get there? Oh, Barry…

My first year starting up a small shop was a rough one, which is to say, bad location, not much business. Not knowing anyone in town, I was grateful when someone said they had a friend who was looking for a house cleaner once a week. I could do that. There were two guys renting a big house tucked into the woods. The guy who paid me, what do you think his name was? Barry. More precisely, Barry the slob. Neither of them washed dishes, picked up after themselves, or did laundry. It was vile. They were never home when I went to clean, as though an acute sense of shame led them running from the house before I arrived. After the third week, I found a large basket, emptied out a bunch of wires and computer parts, and printed up a sign with a giant arrow > your clothes go here. It was effective for one week. Barry and I parted ways.

A tall, rangy, good looking man came into my shop one rainy day and sat down at the little wicker table. We had tea, we talked for quite a while. He was interesting, a good listener, a little mysterious. He said he was a writer, and lived in town, that he’d managed to ‘get out for awhile’. He asked me if I would go out some evening for a drink with him. “I don’t know” I answered. He laughed a little. We continued chatting, then he thanked me for the tea and he left. I never saw him again. Ever. His name…Barry. Had I conjured him up, like a handsome genie emerging from a green bottle in my shop?

The following year saw me in a relationship with a kind, exuberant musician. Six months into our relationship, he asked me to go with him to Cape Cod to visit his eighty year old mother. I had heard ‘my mother this, and mother that’, but what was her name I asked? “Her given name is Miriam, but she changed it about ten years ago when she went blonde, after her fourth husband (they keep dying.) Now she goes by…Barrie. Oh dear. How was this possible?

Not long after, I volunteered to be on the founding committee for a Renaissance Festival in the town. The chairman of the committee…Barry. There was another Barry who befriended me ten years later, but the Barry wave had ebbed out for me. I demurred.

And that’s all I have to say about Barry.

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