Terry – Remember Terry (Upset the Rhythm)

– this review was first published here at This Is Not a Drill – 

Remember Terry? He would sit at the local from when the day job finished until closing time, sipping pint after pint, carefully and carelessly. He stacked his glasses, swished around the remaining liquid, touched every object on his table by the window with the same curiosity. The same boredom. Every night at twelve, he would get up from his bar stool. Get up and dance. Seeing Terry dance is a sight the like of which you would never have seen before – unless you had already seen it before. It was madness and it was beautiful.

Remember Terry? Poor ol’ Terry. Always misunderstood, his genius – though was it really genius? was it luck? – never recognised. Always one step ahead, one step behind, bent and out of step either way.

Remember Terry? I’ll describe him for you. Reasonably tall, thin, dark half-long hair, a prominent nose. He moved in a strange kind of way, as if his motions were a recording of him walking backwards played in reverse, or as if he was underwater, but this way of moving only added to his gentle appearence. He talked fast, mouth overflowing with ideas, small ideas, just little suggestions and imaginations, not the philosophy kind of thing. Yet his voice was calm, it was easy and indeed a pleasure to hear him speak, which he might have been aware of. But then again, who can really claim to know what was going on inside Terry’s mind.

Remember Terry? You can’t be sure if you really remember him either. Memories of Terry have this strange quality, as if they have subtly been edited by a benevolent demon, as if they are video recordings that have unwittingly captured a time traveler who’s just making a short stop here in 1979, there in 2013. That’s the thing about Terry, though: it’s never been clear if he was out of place, or if he was a product of his time just as much as we are, but more enigmatic and essential. Did we not understand Terry – do we still not understand him – because he wasn’t of our time, either literally or figuratively, or is the truth far simpler, namely that we did not understand our own time, none of us except for Terry. If the latter is true, then maybe that’s why those memories of Terry seem tainted, because the further we drift away from Terry and his time in which he lived and which lived through him, the further we drift away from Terry himself, and the more we lose our chance to ever unravel the mystery of that singular man unashamedly dancing at 12 am in a local pub, with eyes that I can’t help describe as sad, even though they might have expressed another emotion entirely.

Remember Terry? I bet you don’t. Here’s another possibility for you: maybe Terry never existed, or he is in fact multiple persons, all embodied by the same character, like a musical group, a foursome pop band or something, that calls themselves Terry, as a joke, as an act of creation, as a remembrance of friends past, as a meaningless utterance. Because Terry is not elusive, he’s right here, really, and yet he is slippery, always wearing masks and other disguises, always changing his expression. I doubt I’ve ever seen the real Terry, but perhaps that’s all I’ve ever seen. See, I don’t know, but well, describe a person, that’s quite a task. Do you need a complete account, the life and opinions of? Or is one memory enough? One song? One Terry.

Remember Terry? You don’t need to. There’s still time to go out and meet him. In fact, Terry’s just arrived, just now, and he’s sitting at the table, waiting to tell his stories and waiting to hear yours. Go out and have a drink with him. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see him dance.

-- Caspar Jacobs, July 7, 2017