“Hello Bebe” I said, “I love you Bebe.” It was in the summer of ’96 at the time I was uttering these words to Abby one day, and by this time, many, but not all, of my family members grew accustomed to me talking baby-talk to Abby. Maybe they thought it was weird, off-beat or even cute given my normal disposition of being taciturn and dour. My cousin, who was driving the car I was in, kept glancing in her rear-view mirror at me. She tried to be as inconspicuous as possible when she kept cutting her eyes at me. Her eyes said it all: what the hell is wrong with this guy? The problem with the scenario is that I was alone in the backseat of a car which was 5 miles away from the dog I was talking to.
My mom, cousin and I went to Greensboro to see my dad. I’m not sure if my parents were still separated at this point or if the divorce had been finalized. Ostensibly, my mom wanted to go back to her old home to retrieve a few things she forgot when she officially moved out in December, 1994. (She had left him about a month before.) I think the real reason she wanted to go back home was to check on my dad, spy on him, snoop around and see how he was doing. We did retrieve a few things, nothing of consequence except for some old tapes that he had recorded of our phone conversations. Why in the hell that man bugged his own phone is still a mystery to me to this day. It was a set of these cassettes that my mom found in the fall of ‘94 which she listened to which led to their break-up. There was some juicy stuff there. Suffice it to say, there was quite a bit of incriminating information on those tapes. Anyway, we found some more tucked away in the front closet which I sneaked into the car and listened to later on the trip back.
Normally, finding taped phone calls and listening to them would be the highlight of a trip especially with the content these tapes contained, but not this time. It had to share top billing with me talking to myself on the way back. We were a few miles from home on the beltline between Yonkers Road and New Bern Ave. when I uttered my words to Abby. My cousin didn’t want me to know she was looking at me yet she couldn’t turn her eyes away. It’s sort of like walking past the schizophrenic guy on the park bench downtown all by himself who is deep into conversation with god knows who. You know it’s impolite to stare, but it’s so entertaining that you can’t help but not to. And so it was with my cousin and me.
At about that time, the car became quiet which was when my mom noticed my cousin looking at me. By now, my mom knew full well I was talking to Abby. My mom started laughing loudly at my cousin. “Don’t you know he’s talking to Abby?” my mom said. “I didn’t know what was going on” my cousin responded “I thought he was losing his mind.” Once my cousin realized I was being a little weird and eccentric and not crazy, she too started laughing at me.
In a matter of minutes, I would be reunited with my Baby Girl who would be ecstatic to see me. She was a bright spot in an otherwise miserable year.