“Don’t forget us when you’re famous!”

That is something I’ve heard ever since I started comedy. I’ve heard it from relatives, old friends and sometimes people I just met. I understand it’s a thing to say but it never feels right to hear. Especially after a great conversation with someone I haven’t talked to for years. It reminds me that people will drift in and out of your life for years, sometimes decades. It’s hard to keep track of everyone especially since the human brain can only maintain about 150 stable social relationships, Dunbar’s number.

Of course, this number includes past colleagues that a person will always want to run into again. And I have kept up with a lot of old friends… especially chicks I wanted to bang.

Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory. When I think of my childhood, memories appear in my mind as snapshots. This came up with my older sister who confided in me that she is the same way. So I guess bad memory is in our genes.

Thanks to being on the road, I run into people from my past. Old co-workers from my AMC days and high school friends are the most common. I never run into elementary school friends (I went to two different school in two different cities I didn’t actually live in), middle school friends (unless they went to high school with me), co-workers from Taco Cabana (I was a manager and couldn’t hang with employees) or college friends (probably because I only went for six months and made one real friend).

Quick Side Story: One time as I was visiting home from college, I hung out with this girl all night. She was a friend of a friend. We talked about the future while staring at the sky in my driveway. Nothing happened. Not sure if something was supposed to or if I was really just terrible with game. She kept up with me for two more months, then I never heard from her. Two years pass and I received a letter in the mail from someone saying that girl needed my help. She was going through rough times and was trying to piece her past back together. Although the description of me was completely wrong, I wanted to help but there was no contact info or return address. I’ve carried that letter around for 13 years now… just in case.

Anyway, here’s why I’m writing this. I do my best to remember everyone I meet. It’s hard. I meet tons of people almost weekly. My 150 stable social relationships have become mostly occupied by unstable anti-social comedians. I like to perform in my hometown at least once a year so I can visit family and get paid. As my career has become more solid, more people from my past drop in at my shows. It started with high school friends then my mother’s friends then my father’s friends and so on. The craziest thing is the drop ins are now going deep into my childhood. Like people that knew me way before I knew me.

I didn’t forget them when I got famous because I’m not famous. I forgot them when I was wearing GI Joe underwear. So here’s what happened with one.

I was doing a show in Weslaco, TX. The first few table were filled with relatives and my mother’s friends since she love to show me off, of course. When I was done, I stand by the exit and thank everyone for coming to the show. Oh and to sell my Nick Guerra t-shirts. This guy comes up to me and asks, “Hey did you grow up in Mercedes, TX?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, man, Nick Guerra. I was your next door neighbor. We used to play all over the neighborhood, remember?”

Now, my family moved out of Mercedes when I finished with 2nd grade. I can’t do the math on how old I would have been quickly enough right now which is a sign that since I can’t even remember my own age at 2nd grade, I definitely don’t remember this guy.

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Yeah, man, you and Ilsa would come over and play.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, man. Crazy, huh? Glad to see you’re doing alright. Hey man, don’t forget about Mercedes, man.”

“Oh yeah, my mom is here at the show. You should say hi to her.”

“Oh really… okay. Yeah man, don’t forget about us.”

I gave him a shirt and he walked back to his table. I felt bad for not remembering him but I patted myself on the back for getting through the conversation. He never went to say hi to my mom but I couldn’t hold that against him.

Just as I was packing up my shirts, the comedian I brought with me walks over to me and says, “You want to hear something crazy.”

“Yeah.”

“So this guy comes up to me and asks me if I’m a comedian. Then he asks me if I’m from Mercedes. I tell him no, I’m from Dallas. He says ‘Nah, man, you’re from Mercedes, remember. You and your sister would come to our house all the time.’ I say, ‘Nah I’m from Dallas.’ He keeps going, ‘Don’t fuck with me, man, you’re from Mercedes, your sister is Ilsa and you used to be my neighbor.’ I keep telling him no and he keeps getting pissed and thinks I’m fucking with him. Finally he says, ‘You’re not Nick Guerra?’ I tell him no and I point over to you. ‘That’s Nick Guerra’. So he walks in your direction, passes you and starts talking to the other comic next to you, ‘Hey man, you’re a comedian from Mercedes, right.'”

I guess I didn’t look like whatever he thought Nick Guerra the comedian should look like.

My buddy and I laughed as I finished packing my Nick Guerra t-shirts. I instantly didn’t feel bad for not remembering him but I felt bad for giving him a t-shirt. I won’t forget him now though.

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