Memories

As for humans, the word can mean at least two things: that which is remembered and that which does the remembering. Ever since I was in high school, they fascinated me, both of them. I saw demonstrations of men hearing a hundred names one time and he is able to recite them back, in any order.

Me, you introduce me to someone, it generally goes in one ear and out the other. Then, I see the person five days later and I don’t remember their face.

I sort of get it. There are tricks to remembering names, or things. Still, I wonder, does in go into permanent memory or does he remember the names for a few days and he does a memory purge on them all. Besides, the trick only works when you are alerted. Then too, if it is permanent memory, wouldn’t it eventually cause an overflow?

Someone alerts you and introduces you to someone. You might remember the name forever. On the other hand, if you are not alerted, do you remember the name for five minutes?

There are, of course other things to remember besides names. When I was in school, the teachers kept trying to get me to remember dates. The one I remembered best was my birthday. Nowadays, there are a few other dates I remember, my wife’s birthday and our anniversary. Thankfully, both of them are easy, though I guess I ought make them public.

The other day a tune was going through my head so I tried looking it up on line. It took me 20 minutes to find it. I thought I was entering the title and I was entering some of the lyrics. The song was a fifties hit, “Make Yourself Comfortable.” Now I wish I hadn’t found it. It keeps going through my mind whether or not I want it to.

I have known people who have naturally good memories. I knew a master sergeant that certainly was better than any four men I ever knew, and I mean collectively. If I told the man I would be done with something at 3 PM, he was there asking for a status report at one minute after 3. Somehow, he could keep track of a dozen things at once without the paperwork. However, we did have plenty of paperwork to keep track of with twenty F-4 jets.

I guess bad spelling goes with bad memories. I never was good at spelling, even though I worked at it hard. Even today, I find myself using the wrong vowel until my spellchecker straightens me out. I guess, to some degree, that is one way to practice spelling. I don’t know why, however, to this day, I cannot spell the second word in FBI. (I think it’s those French messing with our language.)

The strange thing is that when I want to forget stuff, I can’t. When I want to remember stuff, I can’t. It sort of works backward to the desired way. Now and then, someone will ask me a question I know the answer to, and suddenly I don’t know it. For twenty or thirty minutes I try and try. Then, when I don’t need to know, it pops right into my mind immediately. It gets s frustrating.

It has gotten worse as I get old, but I have always had the problem. When I got off the bus in Needles, CA, a border patrol agent was right at the door and he asked where I was born. Now that is embarrassing. I knew it as I approached the door. Then, when he asked, I couldn’t remember. He put me in a group of people that that didn’t know English. I was 16 at the time.

On the other hand, my wife had an excellent memory. She worked in a hospital and she memorized these long account numbers and never got them wrong. Just how does a person do that?

A couple weeks ago, I yelled at my wife because she asked me the same question four times in less than five minutes. You see, she doesn’t remember so well anymore. I felt so bad about yelling at her for it and I told the doctor about it. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He said, “You could write it down or record it, but then that would anger her too.” I could so to speak, win the argument with nothing to gain.

A couple of weeks ago, she fell and broke her knee cap. I took her to the ER and I saw the photo. The bone was definitely in two pieces. The next morning, right after she woke up, she asked me why her knee hurt so much. I figure at this point, about all I can do is try my best to spoil her. Considering what she did for me, it is the least I can do.

The trick is, it means I must outlast her. Considering I had four bypassed about 20 years back, I don’t know if I can do that.

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