Ike Martin 0000-00-00 00:00:00
There I was at a family reunion, deep in conversation with someone whose name I know but couldn’t remember. I was standing there trying to listen to her talk while searching through my “name database” when my brother came up and asked, “What are you and Mom talking about?” Someone suggested I use word association to remember someone’s name. For example, if I meet Joe and discover he owns a cafe, I associate cafe, cup of coffee, cup of Joe. But how am I supposed to remember he owns a cafe? I have a better chance of remembering his name than his profession. This whole memory thing I’m encountering seems to be a direct result of stepping over the sexagenarian threshold. Oh, it’s not an overnight thing. It begins to manifest itself in the mid 40s with the “oh, what’s his name” phase. By the 50s, you find yourself looking long and hard at the woman in front of you before realizing it’s your wife. One tactic we can employ for help with remembering names is to solicit a friend’s assistance. Just be careful. I was at a party recently and asked my brother-in-law, “Hey, Bob, who is that goofy-looking woman with the Rod Stewart hairdo?” “Uh, that’s your sister, Julie — my wife — you jerk!” Yesterday I met a man who seemed to know me very well, but I had no recollection of who he was. I was able to fake knowing him for about 30 minutes but then had to confess that I couldn’t recall ever having met him. He informed me he had been my attorney two weeks prior when I sued my sister for beating me up after my “goofylooking woman” remark. Two weeks ago? How do you forget that? It’s not just names I forget; I forget everything. Once I couldn’t remember what I had gone to the grocery store to buy. My wife suggested I start making a shopping list before I go. But the next time I still had to call her from the store — not just because I forgot to bring the list, but also to ask her what color our car was. Of course, husbands have always forgotten anniversaries and birthdays, but that’s more of an issue of priority than forgetfulness. In order to remember, say, an anniversary date, we have to delete something from the memory bank. And some things are just too hard to give up. I’m not ready to erase the image of Miss Cotton, the fifth-grade teacher I had a crush on. I’ve had that image since I was 11 years old. Is a wife’s birthday really that important? But it is true. Most of us already know that at this stage of being chronologically gifted, the memory bank just has too much information stored. The only chance of recalling something from these dusty file cabinets is if the memory just happens to be meandering through our consciousness at about the exact moment we need the information. This is commonly called “accidental memory.” We have absolutely no control over it, but we are always appreciative when it happens. Doctors refer to my affliction as Short-Term Memory Loss Syndrome, and the families of STMLS victims are the ones who really suffer from this malady. Imagine how embarrassing it is forMy grandchildren to go shopping with me, wearing their names on Post-it notes attached to their foreheads. Or when the school calls to inquire why they aren’t wearing shoes. What compounds the problem is trying to remember what I walked into the kitchen for while my head is bouncing around with, “Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed.” Even worse are the songs with little ditties — the ones we wished we would forget — such as “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” or “The Purple People Eater.” Unfortunately, I have both of these on automatic recall, which means when I’m trying to remember the name of my boss’s wife at a party, my brain is busy singing, “It was a one-eyed, one-horned flyin’ purple people eater …” Of course some things are on perfect total recall — useless things, such as the home address where I grew up and the memory of Billy Johnson eating three caterpillars for a quarter in the second grade. I can’t remember when Independence Day is, but if you want to know what happened at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, I’m all over that.
Published by Downtowner Magazine. View All Articles.
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