36. Pride in having given up his pride

Coffees were ordered and his friend asked for directions to the toilets and headed for them with a purposeful step while Benny found a couple of seats, and was just sitting there looking at the small pile of change he put down on the table when the coffees and the companion arrived simultaneously.

Benny had been picking up each coin, rotating each as necessary and squinting to see the year stamped on the heads side (the light wasn’t great in the café). It was an occasional tendency that I’ve mentioned before, and that he sometimes rediscovered in quiet moments, an inclination that developed in a casual sort of way over time to connect one of the revealed years with a remembered moment. There was never an assurance that the back of a coin would jog a memory, significant or otherwise, and of course Benny couldn’t always tie a particular year to a particular moment of his life.

‘Lost your lucky dollar Ben?’ “Oh no, just… nah,” and he slid them into a hand and put them away — but at the same time was honest enough with me to admit, without really forming the thought, that there had been some toying with the possibility of opening up right then about this year-on-the-coin quirk of his. It wasn’t lost on Benny that this could seem an interesting or intriguing idea to someone else, and not be viewed as strange or obsessive as he had feared in earlier times.

It could all depend on the person, and if they seemed attuned to what could be unearthed from this incidents-recalled pastime. The tingle that lightly brushed the edge of his mind was that they might appreciate the thought — he knew from his own experience that lost memories can be rediscovered, although sometimes these could have been forgotten for a reason. Still, it’s an idea they might like, a tip they could try, it could be doing them a favour…

But Benny kept all this to himself (and yes, I was grumbling from the back room). The motivation wasn’t to do anybody any favours… except maybe himself… as there was also the hidden motivation of maybe finding some kudos from his little trick. This may seem like a very small way to chase up some points, but there it was. There was a bit of a twist in his logic that seemed to come from somewhere near the ‘ulterior’ neighbourhood, and I’m glad he had picked up on that just enough to hold back a little. He knew himself that there would have been just a touch of sneakily looking for recognition.

Later I would try to remind our boy about a passage in a book he admired years ago that struck a chord in his mind at the time, but the echo since had trailed off to silence. This touched on people, especially those in the public eye, who eventually admit to making a mistake and come clean about something, whose confessions always seemed to ‘stink a little bit of the writer’s pride in having given up his pride’. That had made sense to Benny, and the general thrust would have stuck just as well today.

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