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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

The Price of a Memory

Tuesday
September 13, 2015

"What hijacked my world that night
To a place in the past"
-The Pretenders "Back on the Chain Gang"

"And the price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings"
-Counting Crows "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby"

Early this morning I logged into my Facebook account, as I do from time to time. To be sure, I'm not a particularly big fan of Facebook, not with its perpetual effort to thwart my attempts to see my news feed in reverse chronological order. I spent enough years putting newscasts together to not need an algorithm to choose my stories for me. Though, either way, my feed on there is usually cluttered with mundane (at best) posts, photos of families of people I know only peripherally, or acquaintances from the distant past.

In short, it's usually a colossal waste of time for me.

One positive feature Facebook has though is the birthday listing, a nice way to allow you to take a moment to wish happy birthday to friends and family. But it's a double-edged sword at times, with friends who have died popping up as a sometimes morbid reminder: hey, if this person were still alive, he or she would be this many years old today.

10/13 is my buddy Scott Massey's birthday, but I already knew that. But there were two other listings, including one for Sheila, a girl I had a brief-but-intense few weeks with in Huntington in 2012. She was the first girl I dated after having been in a three-and-a-half year relationship, and we had great chemistry. She was memorable.

But I also knew it wasn't going to last long. She was far too bossy for my liking, and I was far too non-malleable for her. That tagline at the top of this website of Unapologetically Headstrong is no joke. Despite her sometimes bizarre behavior, she never could get an emotional reaction out of me. And, as it turned out, that just fed the fire to a degree since I became a challenge to her.

Sheila, to put it bluntly, was an ex-stripper with a serious drug problem. I never saw it first-hand, well except the nicotine from the cigarettes that I wouldn't let her smoke in my car or my apartment. But between what she told me about her past and what I was able to pick up on, I knew she had been in a rough spot. That was around the time when "The A Team" by Ed Sheeran was a big hit, and I'll always associate her with that song for multiple reasons.

I actually wrote about her on here in early 2013, albeit without using her name. That's something I try not to do anymore with my private life since it only causes me problems, or even worse problems for others. This (sadly) isn't 2003 Ybor City anymore. Too many people are paying attention.

What I wrote was not particularly complimentary, but I can be a heel in real life sometimes with my INTP personality type showing through. As the description says: "They may be extremely caustic and insulting to others."

Just because I hide it well most of the time doesn't mean it's not there.

But, after seeing Sheila's birthday listing on Facebook, my curiosity was piqued about what she was up to now, so I went to her page. The top entry was from a friend of hers who referenced her death, which made me do a double-take. I immediately began putting my investigative skills to work, hoping this was a horribly unfunny joke.

Sadly, it was not a joke. Sheila died this past May, on Mother's Day of all days, of what on her widowed husband's page was alluded to in comments as a drug overdose. She was 35.

It left me with a very strange feeling, sadness really more for her kids than anything. The only thing close to that which I had experienced before was with Kimmie, a girl I met during a weekend visit to Jacksonville in March 2003 who tragically died later that summer. But Kimmie was just a girl I made out with on a Saturday night at Jacksonville Beach as a one-off, never to be seen again. This was considerably different.

What I imagine Sheila's husband never knew was that, when he posted on Facebook about getting engaged to her in December 2012, at that exact moment she was actually with me, and I know you know what I mean. After that, Sheila ended up texting me when I was back in Nashville for Christmas a couple of weeks later, which seemed odd to me considering she had just gotten engaged. But by that point I had moved on, and that was that.

Tonight I checked back there, and it was sad to see people wishing a happy birthday to a woman who had died five months ago. That made me feel bummed out all over again. Not good times.


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