Watching and hearing what is going on in the news regarding Egypt gave me pause to revisit the past. My senior year in high school started in the fall of 1969 and I graduated in June, 1970. We had a small class of 48 split into two home room divisions. So when a newbie joined us in the middle of the school year it was cause for excitement.
Mauro (we’ll call him that) was tall and wide and had a scowl. He looked like a nose tackle for the Chicago Bears. It was not his fault- that’s the way he was crafted. His attitude was totally the opposite. He was fun loving even if he did look like Oddjob, the hat-tossing foe of James Bond in Goldfinger. He also had a deadpan sense of humor so you couldn’t always tell if he was trying to be funny or telling the truth.
Mauro came from, or more exactly was thrown out of, Egypt by Nasser himself. And the tyrant was doing Mauro and his family a favor. I had learned more of the details at that time but over the years I forgot them. I also did not see him again from the day we graduated and on.
Forty years later- in other words, last year- I received a Linked In notification that one of my friends had made contact with someone else that the social media site thought may be of interest to me. You know how that works- the friend of your friend may possibly be your friend, too. I immediately recognized the name of the person to be my classmate from forty years earlier.
I sent him an invite to connect on Linked In if he indeed was who I thought he was. Mauro wrote back that he was and gave me his number to call. I did call the next day and for forty-five minutes bridged a lifetime.
He told me again the facts of how he came to America because he and his family had been thrown out of Egypt. His father had been a dentist to the Royal Court of Nasser. After certain events transpired in Egypt in the late 1960’s, his family was persona non grata and thrown into jail with so many others. However, Nasser had remembered the care and kindness that the dentist patriarch had shown his teeth. Nasser took Mauro’s entire family out of prison and put them on the next plane to wherever they wanted to go.
His family had been used to traveling. His parents were not born in Egypt but had come from another country so that his father could open up his dental care practice without too much competition. I had thought that Mauro was possibly older than me but he was my age. It was just having to go from country to country to start a life over that made him look that much older.
Mauro also told me- and here is where I don’t know if he was doing his kidding again or being serious- that he had been to Tahiti two times in the past.
He told me how he had fashioned a career three times, once going back to college for a second degree in order to become an engineer. His most recent effort was ending in failure due to the economy as his office supplies/printing shop/shipping location store could no longer afford to pay the rent.
He also told me he was married but had no children. He then said something strange but I guess it was a sign of the times. He said his wife was living in another state but that they were still happily married. He spoke every day on the phone to her. I asked him what his wife did for a living and he said she was a gynecologist for a women’s prison facility.
I asked Mauro what he was planning to do after he closed down the store. He said, â€œnaturally- go to Tahiti again.â€