No. “You asked the wrong person!”
George has the honor of being my very first interviewee. I saw him outside the window and decided I might as well start now and we could use H.o.p.’s little digital camera to record a movie from which I could make a transcription. Knowing the battery in H.o.p.’s camera was running low but hoping it would last long enough, we ran out and caught George. We talked in the shade of the trees on this humid, sunny day, the mosquitoes snacking on us.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: And I’m going to take a photo…
GEORGE (laughing, expecting me to take a photo right then): Wait, wait…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: But, but, no, no, but you can be, I’m going to get my camera, you can be anonymous if you want to or…
H.O.P.: Look, I’m filming.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Have you ever seen a UFO?
GEORGE: No, no.
Ok. What’s the most interesting coincidence you’ve ever had?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Ok. What’s the most interesting coincidence you’ve ever had?
H.O.P.: About alien sightings.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: No, not about alien sightings. About anything. An interesting coincidence, synchronicity.
GEORGE (reflects long): If you could see my brain now you’d probably bust out, go to laughing. Hmmm.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: You can’t think of one or there are too many.
GEORGE: I can’t think of one, y’know. I draw a blank on that one.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: A total blank? OK. Well, what if you had a story you wanted to tell. One of your more interesting stories.
GEORGE (laughing, smacks mosquito): That I would want to tell?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS (laughing): That you would want to tell. A little piece of history.
GEORGE: You asked the wrong person.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I’ve asked the wrong person? You? I know you’ve got tons of stories. You’ve probably got, you’ve got…
GEORGE: I know…
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: You’ve got a country of stories.
H.O.P.: Yup, mom, a country of them.
GEORGE: Just any type of story?
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Yes.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: It could be an unusual story. You’ve been a lot of places. You’ve done a lot of things. You’ve met a lot of people.
GEORGE: But I don’t know any stuff that’s unusual. The way I look at it it’s not unusual.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Well, you know what I mean….a little bit of history.
I never thought I would meet somebody in Vietnam that was from my hometown that I knew, y’know, because I grew up in a small place
GEORGE: I remember I was in uhm Vietnam and, uh, being that far away from home, young, y’know, and I never thought that I would meet somebody in Vietnam that was from my hometown that I knew, y’know, because I grew up in a small place, y’know, in Georgia. But, I was off that night and I went to the rec center. And I went in there to shoot some pool. So I said, “Who’s up next?” and they said, “You’ve got to put your name on the list.” So I put my name on the list. And the guy said, “George Gamble!” And I said, “Ol’ Johnny Bussey!” Y’know we were like two kids inside of this with all these guys standing there. And they said, “You all know each other?” And we said, “Yeah, man! We grew up together in Manchester, Georgia!” They said, “Where is that?”
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: I don’t even know where Manchester is.
GEORGE: It’s southwest of here about seventy miles. You got a Georgia map? Find Meriwether County. It’s spelled M-e-r-i-w-e-t-h-e-r. Find Meriwether County and look down in the right hand corner. It’s right at Meriwether County, Harris County and Talbot County, right where those three come together you’ll see the little town of Manchester. It’s about 4000 people, maybe 5000 now. But when I left home it was about 3000 people down there, y’know. And uhm, this guy, as a matter of fact we used to go to his house on Sundays….
H.O.P.: Uh, oh, the battery is dying.
GEORGE: And, uh, he was living with his grandfather. His mother lived in New Jersey. And the two boys went to school down here. And when he graduated from high school, he moved to New Jersey where his mother lived. And next time I saw him was Vietnam.
IDYLLOPUS PRESS: Now, that’s a coincidence.
GEORGE: It’s a good feeling to see somebody that you know, that you grew up with, that far away from home. It’s amazing.
H.o.p.’s camera then shut down, the battery going dead. A couple came up from the next apartment building who were out walking their three dogs. I went inside for my camera and took several photos of George.