Posted by: dreymer | November 29, 2006

Eddie

“Hello Eddie!”

“So… going to KLCC, right?”

“Yes Eddie!”

 The sky was grey and gloomy. Light patters of rain streamed down the window. The radio tuned to the newly rebranded lite.fm spinning soft, easy listening songs. All was quiet as we breezed through the unsually free of traffic Federal Highway headed towards the city centre. My colleague broke the ice and asked which radio station my parents listen to. “Lite.fm,” I answered. “Hmm.. my parents too.” Simultaneously, we looked at Eddie’s reflection from the rear mirror as if to imply, “Eddie, you as old as my parents.” I turned to my right, looked out of the mirror and grinned.

Amidst the ghostly silence, Eddie started humming to a familiar tune. The Herman’s Hermit – My Sentimental Friend. Eddie lets out a forlorn sigh.

“This song reminds me of my first love, my true love,” Eddie reminisced. “Every part of the lyrics relate to her. We were perfect for each other…” his words diminished to silence.

Hmm.. uneasy and afraid that he might just weep, I cleared my throat and jokingly asked, “I suppose… you are not referring to your wife, are you?”

Eddie laughed. “No. Not my wife. I was referring to my high school sweetheart. I still have her picture, you know! My wife knows about it.”

I resisted to probe. By now, I would have lashed out my paparrazzi style journalistic skills and bombard with endless questions. This time around, however, I did not have to say much. Information was voluntarily provided.

“We were at our high school party. I was introduced to her. And like this song, she was just sitting at the corner, quiet.. watching the rest of us party and mingle. I was then introduced to her. She wasn’t beautiful you know. I remember she had really bad dentures! Like a rabbit. But then, later that night, a couple of young punks crashed our party. I was kinda notorious at that time. I was known as “………………..” (dreymer: it was some numbers in Cantonese that I can’t recall — sounds pretty Chinese triad already if you can imagine.”

Despite Eddie’s receding hairline and wrinkled forehead, I could imagine how Eddie must have looked like in the 60’s. With his trademark dark sunglasses, perhaps 20 lbs lighter amd maybe in his similar tight fitting white short sleeves shirt and a packet of cigs in the front packet, I’m sure he was the bad boy girls would love to date.

“My gang and I… we were into martial arts. Just when the fight got out of control, she grabbed on to me and held on to my hand for protection. Those punks, they got whacked up like crazy by us. Out of respect for me, they stopped and went away.”

My colleague could not help it but to blurt out the obvious, “Wahhh.. so you were her hero la!”

Eddie laughed out loud. “I was her hero, her saviour.” He continued, “from that day onwards, we started communicating on the phone only because she was from up north, not local. We talked everyday. We laughed at each other’s jokes. Dreamt about out future. We have not met since that day at the party. The only significant feature I could remember at that time was her bad dentures.”

I thought to myself that her teeth must have been really, really bad.

“One day… in 1973, I was walking on the street when suddenly there was  a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and looked at this lady and asked, “Do I know you?” The moment she opened her mouth to say hello, I knew it was her. I could recognize her voice. The voice I have been listening to everyday. And my god, has she changed! Her teeth, it was perfect. After that one meeting, we saw each other frequently.”

“She would come down to KL every once in a while and stay with me for weeks. Until one day, she received a phone call from her mother telling her to head back to Penang. Apparently her mother has arranged marriage for her to an insurance salesman. We had to part ways…”

“It was sad, but what to do? Who dared to defy her mother’s actions. I know she couldn’t. After a couple of weeks later, I received a phone call from her cousin! The cousin said that because my ex-girlfriend is married, she would take her place. I laughed! Well, we did date for a while. Although we could get along, it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same click I had with that bunnie-teeth girl. I broke off with the cousin and my best friend took over my place.”

That is so funny.

“After she got married, we lost touch. Last I heard, about 5-6 years ago, she and her husband divorced. She had two kids. I have not had any updates since.”

“Ahhhh… I still remember her full name till this very day. Jennifer XX XX XX”

We finally reached our destination and got out of the cab with Eddie’s love story playing in our head. The Herman Hermit’s lyrics still lingered in our minds about how Eddie’s sentimental friend Jennifer was just as sentimental as our story-telling taxi driver.

So won’t you please play a song, a sentimental song

For my sentimental friend over there

We’ve been so long apart make it go right to the heart

Of my sentimental friend over there

Bring the tears to her eyes to make her realize

The love we had was just beyond compare

Then if the time is right, maybe I’ll hold her tight

My sentimental friend over there

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