Some people you meet will greet you with “Hello.”
Some will greet you with “Hi. How are you?”
While others express their pleasure in seeing you with a nod and a smile.
However, I never expected “Where’s Peggy?” to become a standard salutation until the day a family friend, Willie Alfred, began greeting me with me, “Where’s Peggy?”
Every time I crossed paths with Willie Alfred – before he said ‘hello’ or asked how I was doing – he asked me, “Where’s Peggy?”
I usually responded, “I don’t know,” but that didn’t stop him from asking.
“How come you don’t know?” he would then ask.
“I don’t know where she is because I haven’t seen or heard from her in years,” I’d reply.
At that point he would shake his head to show his disgust with my inability to keep up with friends who had moved away without leaving a forwarding address. Remember, this was before the age of Facebook and social media.
“Well, you need to get busy and find her,” he’d respond.
I never understood Willie Alfred’s fascination with Peggy since he only met her once.
Peggy was hanging out with me at a friend’s party when Willie Alfred walked up and asked me who she was.
“Her name’s Peggy,” I answered. “She’s a friend of mine.”
“Well Peggy, you sure are pretty,” he said.
“Thank you,” she replied.
From that day on, every time I saw Willie Alfred he greeted me with “Where’s Peggy?”
During the first month or two, I humored him by responding, “She’s working.” Or, “She’s home.”
However, after a few months, these question and answer sessions about Peggy’s whereabouts began to annoy me.
“Where’s Peggy?” Willie Alfred would ask.
And I’d respond, “I don’t know.” Or, “I haven’t seen her.”
Even though I stopped having answers to his question, he didn’t stop asking.
This annoyed some of my friends even more than it annoyed me.
One day, Willie Alfred walked up to me and a friend of mine and asked, “Where’s Peggy?”
Before I could respond, my friend answered, “She moved to Tennessee.”
Willie Alfred shook his head in disagreement and said, “Peggy ain’t moved.” Then he walked away.
The very next time Willie Alfred saw us, he asked, “Where’s Peggy?”
“She’s dead,” my friend snapped. “Peggy is dead.”
Willie Alfred stepped back, stared sorrowfully into my eyes and asked, “Ant, is Peggy dead?”
Before I could respond, my friend reiterated, “I told you she’s dead.”
Willie Alfred shook his head and walked away with saying another word.
It didn’t take long for my friend to regret what he had said.
The next time we saw Willie Alfred, we smiled and waited for him to ask, “Where’s Peggy?” But he didn’t. He smiled and nodded cordially.
He didn’t ask about Peggy the next time I saw him. Or the next time. My friend had dealt a deadly Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf blow to Peggy and Willie Alfred’s salutation.
Willie Alfred died several years ago, but from the day Tony told him Peggy was dead until his death, he never asked about Peggy again.
I haven’t seen or heard from Peggy since the mid-1980s, but I think it’s time I found my old friend.
Anyone seen Peggy?