Ishmael's Blog

August 4, 2009

What Just Happened?

Filed under: What Just Happened? — Ishmael @ 12:09 am

Some people can remember names,  others faces,  scents, or places.  I’m not one of them.  Mostly, I can’t remember anything unless it is really important to me.  Really… it’s embarrassing at times.  I used to call my daughter my son’s name, and would call my son by my daughter’s name.  I only called my wife a different name once, I won’t ever make that mistake again!  Her name is VERY important to me!

I have a problem, you see.  I blackout and can’t remember things.  This is usually brought about by stress, and for the longest time I thought it was just me.  As I got older and talked to other people, I found that others had the same issues.  Sometimes it is a good thing, but most of the time it’s not.

The first time this happened to me was in gym class in my Sophomore year of High School.  I’m sure you remember the person in gym class who was always picked last for every game, and who was always in the middle of the slowest group of runners.  That was me, and for your sake, I hope it wasn’t you.  I hated it.  One day we were running track indoors, and then I wasn’t there.  All I remember was running so fast that when I came around the corner I could feel the joint between the floor and the wall underneath the soles of my shoes.  I remember lapping the rest of the guys twice, and then walking off of the gym floor and not even breathing hard.  I also remember Coach Watts looking at me with his mouth wide open, his stopwatch in one hand and his clipboard hanging at his side from the other.  I wish I could do it again one more time.  This was one of the good times.

The next time was a year later.  A friend of mine, Jim, and I were skipping school and driving in my 1953 Dodge station wagon.  We stopped at a stop sign, (not a light), and went to pull out.  We saw a truck and one of us made a comment it was sure a good thing we stopped.  And then I wasn’t there again.  I have these snapshots of what happens when it happens.  Like the feel of the joint under the soles of my shoes.  This time the snapshot was of my car on its side, I have Jim’s shirt collar in my hand, (he is still in his shirt), walking to the back of my car, and stepping out of the car with him in tow while the car is still moving.  Next frame I’m sitting on the side of the road and someone is asking me if I had been in the car?  I said yes, and I can remember him saying “Jesus, how did you get out?”  I remember looking at the car and not really thinking of anything, just looking at it.  We got hit by one of the big trucks that go around to gas stations and fill their tanks.  I didn’t have a scratch on me.  To this day, I don’t know what happened to the car,  I don’t know if Jim was hurt,  I don’t remember talking to my parents about it.  It’s just gone.  I know Jim survived, because he was still alive last time I saw him.  Another one of the good times.

Moving forward several years, it’s Christmas Eve.  My wife and son and I are in my 1983 Bonnevile.  This car rode great, but it was the biggest black hole for money since the Money Pit.  Four Rack and Pinions and three transmissions in 6 years.  Every year sometime around November or December, the Mass Air Flow Sensor would start going out.  It got to the point I would carry a spare in the trunk.  Now, I love my son dearly, but he didn’t fall far from the tree and is as big a smartass as I am.  We are in Christmas rush-hour traffic  and the car keeps dying.  The only way to get the car going again is to put it in neutral, restart the car, then put it back in gear.  Remember, lots of traffic all around you while you are doing this.  My son is in the back seat going “What’s the matter, Dad?  Can’t you drive?  Huh? Huh?”  Over and over and over.  This didn’t bother me, not at all, much.  I finally got the car off of the highway and into a parking lot, get ready to pull into a parking space, and got into a confrontation with another person who wouldn’t move his car to let the person coming out the space have room.  I’m gone again.  Next thing I remember, this idiot takes a swing at me, misses, and I have a hand full of his hair and I am slamming his face into the hood of someone else’s car.  I know this is someone else’s car, because I can still hear her saying, “Not on my car!”  His nose is flat and I still have a handfull of his hair in my hand.  This was not one of the good times.

Last example:  My wife and I belonged to a Country and Western dance group.  We would all get together on Friday or Saturday and go out dancing.  No big deal, right?  Most of the time yes.  Not this night.  There were four of us, my wife, two other ladies and myself and we were doing a line dance off to one side of the floor, all to ourselves.  A couple came out on the floor, (which was large and mostly empty), and came right over to where we were and starting doing an East Coast Swing.  He kept turning his partner into my wife and bumping her.  The four of us moved away.  He followed and kept doing the same thing.  My wife decided she had had enough and left the floor.  Now, you have to understand my wife, she isn’t afraid of anyone.  As she walked by the guy she called him an asshole.  I’m gone again.  I was told later that he hit her.  Snapshot one, he’s flying through the air and I can see the soles of his shoes.  Next frame, he is landing in the middle of a table full of people and they are moving away rapidly, drinks, chairs and people are going everywhere.  Next frame, I am sitting on his chest, my knees on his arms, and calmly telling him if he ever touches my wife again I will kill him. Very calmly, very clearly.  I didn’t want him to misunderstand me.  I am at my most dangerous when I am that calm.  The four of us decide to leave and go to a different club.  While we are there,  one of the guys I worked with at Kaiser,  Steve, came over and asked what was all over my shirt?  Blood?  I go to the restroom, take the shirt off, look it over, put it back on and go back outside to find Steve.  I told him I had good news and bad news.  The bad news is yes, it is blood, the good news is it’s not mine. Want to know something strange?   For him to be airborn enough for me to see the soles of his shoes, and have him hit the table from that height, I had to have hit him hard enough to break my hand. My hand didn’t hurt and I didn’t have a scratch on me again, not even on my knuckles.  I think I only hit him once, but I just don’t know.  I’m lucky I didn’t kill him, I could have easily and not have known until later.  Not one of the good times.

It has to be the adrenaline and sugar, because witnesses have told me that when I get this way, I get real fast and real strong, which isn’t normal for me.  These aren’t the only times, these are just four that are good/bad examples.

These blackout scare me to death.  I have no control over them, they are just there.  Because I have had these episodes since I was young, I have to keep a real tight reign on all my feelings, to my detriment, but I am constantly afraid of what might happen if I just let go.  I seem cold and withdrawn to a lot of people, and my wife and I are both what most people see as loners.  We’re never the ones asked to go out for lunch, coffee or a beer.  We’re never the ones asked to do anything, we are just the ones always taken for granted.  The ironic thing thing is my wife and I both feel things really deeply, we take offense and are easily hurt by what other people do, by imaginary slights. So instead of allowing ourselves to be hurt more, we withdraw first.  I tell you it’s tough to know this about yourself and still do it.

Do you forget like I do?
 When did it happen and why? 
Tell me now.



  1. This reminds me of that show a few decades ago where that guy turned into big green monster everytime something dangerous happened to him, which was quite often.

    A few things happened where I realized my thoughts are very powerful, that not only do I pick up the thoughts of others, but others can also pick up mine under certain circumstances. One illustration of this was a party I went to around age twenty, at someone’s home where people were drinking and dancing. I was not much of a party person but went there with a woman I’d been dating. The host was making a general fool of himself, cutting in on guys and dancing with all of the women. My date said that people were getting upset at him. I didn’t pay much attention, wasn’t dancing, sat in a comfy chair and relaxed. A few minutes later there was a commotion and the women said we had to leave right away and why did I do that? Here I was innocent, sitting in a chair staying out of trouble, and someone the guy had gotten upside because, he said, that I was going to beat him up if he didn’t get ahold of himself – which I was sure I had said no such thing and didn’t even care. However I was enjoying myself with the beer so who knows.

    Comment by John — August 4, 2009 @ 1:40 am | Reply

    • Whoa I should have proof read. I meant to say the [woman] (my date) said we had to leave right away … and [somehow] the guy had gotten [upset]

      Comment by John — August 4, 2009 @ 1:46 am | Reply

    • Sounds like several of the parties I went to while I was in the Navy! As long as the beer was cold, it was a good night!

      Comment by Ishmael — August 7, 2009 @ 1:40 am | Reply

  2. I’ve actually had a couple of these episodes. There’s one in particular, that to this day still frightens me. I was sitting on the sofa with my dad next to me. For whatever reason I was peeling apples using a knife instead of a potato/apple peeler. My dad was upset with me, and getting after me for something – and for the life of me I can’t remember what the conversation was about. I don’t know what happened. The next thing I remember is seeing the knife in the air with my hand wrapped around it, the sharp end angled down at my dad, and my dad’s hand gripping my wrist in stunned silence. He quietly asked me what was I doing… I was so stunned by my actions, that I just looked at him in shock and told him I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. The next thing I remember saying was, “I think I need to put this knife away.” My dad said, “Good Idea…” I remember scrambling in embarrassment and shame to gather everything and get it all away from me. I think I threw everyting in the sink. I don’t remember what I did with it all. I do remember running shamefully to my room in tears. I don’t remember what the consequenses were. All I really remember was my dad folding me up in his arms when I tried to slink out of my room, and asking me if I was okay. I remember just sobbing in his arms, and apologing over and over.

    It still frightens me to think that that behavior was/is inside of me, and I could have potentially harmed someone I love tremendously. I try really hard to keep a tight rein on my temper and stress level. The anxiety meds help, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!

    Comment by Minx — June 9, 2010 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Minx,

    I’m sure your Dad would still fold you in his arms and tell you it was alright.

    Comment by Ishmael — June 12, 2010 @ 9:52 am | Reply

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