© 2023 Robert Sickles
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the term, if not the odd experience, of déjà vu (in French it means “seen before.”) In my story #12 about being mistaken for somebody else, I described three episodes as cases of jamais vu (“never seen.”) This brings me to the next experience of the triple crown of common unsettling psychological phenomena—presque vu. (French for “almost seen.”) It has been called the “on the tip of the tongue feeling," like the frustration of not quite remembering something; or that you are on the brink of a realization, but just can’t quite reach it. Not just an ordinary memory lapse; for some it can become an obsession. Fiction loves this stuff! The mad scientist or inventor who can't resolve the one problem that stands in the way of a breakthrough, the tormented artist who keeps painting the same scene, never quite capturing that elusive essence. "The Lost Chord," an old poem and song, is about someone who was sitting at the piano and happened upon the most beautiful chord of notes, like it was an angelic sound, a heavenly Om that could reassure, heal and cure all ills... but because it wasn't written down, the exact notes of that chord were lost and never found again. Should I dig out and play The Moody Blues album "In Search of the Lost Chord?"
Who doesn’t feel presque vu after an occasional night of intense dreaming? The next morning, you'd love to tell someone all about your nightmare. It seemed so profound, but now it's impossible to describe because of that missing key—the part you can't recall, possibly because it wasn't really there.
For example, several years ago, I had a vivid and disturbing dream that woke me up with a jolt. I could remember and comprehend every detail, except one.
It was a dark night in a dusty little town in the desert of northern Mexico. I enter a dimly-lit adobe building, the dilapidated “La Cantina,” and take a seat at a rough wooden table. There are some Mexican men in the room, they all give me a stern look and I feel very conspicuous and fearful. A very menacing man staggers over and sits across from me—he is large, gruff, sweaty, stubbly and drunk. He glares at me with bleary eyes and grumbles in barely audible Spanish. I can't understand his words, which frustrates him, and it appears he is going to get violent. He brandishes a big knife, then furiously stabs the table right in front of me, leans forward so we are nearly nose to nose, and growls in Spanish-accented English “You have to understand this, señor, I will say this once: ‘Yandro!’ If nothing else, remember that! Remember that!” I hoped he was going to say more, maybe explain himself, but the dream ended.
I awoke in a sweat, certain that an incomplete message had been given to me. Yandro... the meaning may have been there in the dream, but then it was lost when I woke up. Just a little longer sleep and the message might have been clearer. Damn! It was right there, just beyond my reach… presque vu!
My dream made such an impact on me that for many days, the word “yandro” continually ran through my mind. Whatever it meant, I was certainly not going to forget it. I was on the lookout for a sign! Was yandro an actual Spanish word? How could it be spelled? What if I’d been given a prophesy… or a warning? It could be a place I had to visit, or a stock I should invest in, or someone I meet who will change my life! My wife was surely beginning to think I was barking mad as I searched the internet for hours! But then something very strange happened.
I was stunned. "Oh, now just a minute! How can this be?" I found a website named yandro.com, with this intriguing headline: “Maybe you have lived with the question all your life… or did it just come to you the other night in a dream? What does Yandro mean? If you have dedicated yourself to finding the true significance of Yandro, your quest has led to the right place.”
Whoa! What in the world had I stumbled onto?
“This is so crazy!” I yelled to my wife, “Linda… Honey, come look!” Yandro.com consisted of definitions and references presented with an air of mystical secrecy, as if an all-knowing "source" appeared just for my benefit and was about to reveal a great secret.
“I eagerly read everything and clicked all the links—I couldn’t believe it—first the dream, now this website!
Wait, this can’t be right… [sound effect: car tires screeching to a stop]
Yandro.com, big on mystique but short on delivery. Of the definitions offered, these were typically ho-hum:
Yandro is a village on an outer island of Fiji;
the name of a sci-fi magazine from years ago;
a distortion of the word yonder made to fit the rhyme in a folk song;
a dog who once performed in movies;
an uncommon nickname for Alejandro;
an Olympic champion wrestler from Cuba.
Nothing regarding a cantina in Mexico. I don’t know, maybe I'm supposed to go to Fiji. Linda was right, this was a colossal waste of time!
Except for dusting off the memories while writing this piece, my enthusiasm for yandro has pretty much chilled. Just for fun, I might bring it up when there’s an occasion. For example, I recently embarrassed myself at a crowded, noisy Mexican restaurant. The busy waiter hurriedly asked if I was finished with my chili relleno, but I gestured for him to lean in closer to hear me better. I asked if he knew this word or name, pronouncing “Yandro” the best I could manage in quasi-español, and with a breathful of tequila. He replied “Oh, ha-ha! Gracias, señor! I can take your plate, OK? And would you like more tequila? Or how about some flan?”
Ai yai yai! What do I have to do… stab a big knife into the table?
Some of you might wish to validate the existence of yandro.com. I just went back to doublecheck. Weird… just as enigmatically as it appeared, the domain has been taken over now by someone whose focus is the history of classical music in Utah. Say huh?
What is yandro? Do you have the answer?
Tell me what you think in your Comment, below.