Why I hate the Wickerbocker's
About half a year ago, I was riding around with my best friend in the neighborhood he grew up in. He was telling me these stories of his past life, his friends, and all the mess they got themselves into over the years.
During this drive, we were coming down a hill, and my friend pointed out a little blue house on a corner with a monogrammed “W” above the garage. He told me a short story about the family that used to live there called the Wickerbocker’s.
He descrbed them as people who were so proud of their family name, they installed a giant “W” on the front side of their house to let everyone in the neighborhood know who they were.
I pictured this family in my head as proud. The kind of people who would host neighborhood barbeques and speak highly of their accomplishments, but in such a way that doesn’t come off as pompous or annoying. To me they were somewhat of a hybrid between the Weasley’s from Harry Potter and the Brady Bunch. I imagined a bunch of red-headed kids with freckles, and parents who were unmistakably theirs.
Distinguished Mr. Wickerbocker was, a pillar of the community, possibly a real estate agent or CEO of some toy company. A professional with a smile and firm handshake. A man that could make even the most introverted of people look him in the eyes and cough up some sort of crooked smile. A guy who could easily sell you the shirt on his back, but a heart big enough to give it to you instead.
It didn’t seem by his recollection of the Wickerbocker’s that they were necessarily close to his family, either by age or interests. I also didn’t get the impression they were hostile, but rather a family he just didn’t interact with much.
A few months pass since my friends ‘tour of memories’ and the conversation came back up about the drive.
I asked him about the Wickerbocker’s.
“Remember those people with the W on their house in your old neighborhood?”
“What? The W?”
“Yeah, the people with the weird last name, the Wickerbocker’s or whatever.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about… …people with the W on their house…”
“Yeah, it was a little blue house when you were coming down a hill, on the north side of the road. They had a W above their garage.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t know anyone with that name, or a W on their house.”
At this point, I could swear he was yankin’ my chain. He knew damn well what I was talking about, but wanted to act like he had no idea.
I tried my best to explain it to him, but he just didn’t remember what I was talking about. He insisted I must have made it up. Though I can swear, even to this day, that the house and it’s Wickerbocker’s were as real as all the other families and homes from that cruise down my friend’s version of memory lane.
The topic changed during this exchange, but the story of the Wickerbocker’s would come up in conversation many times through the following months.
A few weeks ago, the topic came up again. This time, instead of dismissing it as a dream, or a bad joke, we decided to make the 30 minute drive back to his old neighborhood in the middle of the night to search for the mysterious house and it’s family of well-to-do redheaded kids. We combed the streets, for what seemed like hours. I would spot a hill that looked familiar, only to be disappointed as we drew closer to the property.
At this point, I was really starting to doubt myself. Had I made this whole thing up? Could it have been a dream I had some other night that wasn’t filed in the “dreams” folder but instead the same folder that contained real memories from that particular night? I didn’t know.
We drove, and drove. Touring new streets, old streets, as my friend told me all the same stories once again from his childhood.
We left empty handed though. No sign of the house, or it’s Wickerbocker’s. This memory I had, so vivid and true, couldn’t be real. I was hoping it would end happily, with my friend suddenly remembering what house I described and the family that resided there decades past. Maybe I just had the last name wrong. He would come back to me and say:
They weren’t the “Wickerbockers” they were the “Tickerbockers”!
Nothing though. Not even a small breakthrough.
My friend said he would go explore the neighborhood again one day, when the sun is shining and attempt to locate the Wickerbocker home. I hope he does, and maybe this story could end much like my favorite episode of Gimlet Media’s Reply All Episode, #158 The Case of the Missing Hit (Which I strongly suggest you listen to).
At any rate, thanks for reading this, friends. It means a lot. I hope now you know why I chose this title for the post, and now you know just why I hate The Wickerbocker’s.