I used to have a freaky good memory. It was the kind of memory that really annoyed a friend of mine who likes to remember things that have happened in a slightly more idealized way than they actually did. She’s wanted to kill me on multiple occasions, the way you’d want to kill a really irritating younger sibling who always pipes up with the truth when you’re lying to your parents.
For example, she’d say, “Oh, remember four years ago, when we went to the park on that beautiful summer day? We had a picnic and the kids played in the stream. I’ll never forget it.” And I, being who I am, which can occasionally be described as a button-pusher, would say, “Um, no. I remember that you flipped off some old man who was driving too slowly, the kids heard you call him a moron, there were ants at the park, you yelled at us because no one liked what you packed for lunch, and so-and-so fell in the stream and almost drowned. It was hot as shit and your deodorant failed you.”
Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but even my friend would agree it’s not too far from many conversations we’ve had that have left her totally deflated. And, truth be told, quite irritated that I've burst her happy (if totally erroneous) little bubble.
Anyway, much to her delight and my chagrin, my memory is slowly but surely failing me. I can’t help but picture my brain as a huge soup pot (a vast vat, as opposed to the tiny teacup it probably is) that just gets filled up with things to remember. When maximum capacity is reached, whatever is at the top just flows overboard and down the drain. I now forget things, like where I’m going in the house. I’ll pause on the stairs and think, “Upstairs to get dirty laundry, office to check email or kitchen to check my calendar? Where was I going?” I’ll forget the grocery list and wander aimlessly around the store trying to conjure up the recipes I had planned for the week. I’ll forget to pay bills (do NOT tell my husband) and I’ll forget to wish someone a happy birthday. I'll forget to return phone calls and emails, and if I am getting off the phone with you for some reason and say, “I’ll call you right back”…well, just don’t hold your breath. Sometimes I forget something I’ve always known, like what time the kids get out of school. Once I sent Whit and Jack to a birthday party a full hour late.
I am so thankful for similarly ditzy, if not ditzier, friends. I got an email yesterday from a friend who left her phone on top of her car and drove away…bye bye, iPhone. Now I’ve done that with coffee, but a smart phone is worse, right? A neighbor told me this morning that she forgot today is her daughter’s birthday. The little girl had to prompt her parents this morning, saying, “Today is super special! Can you guess why??” Neither one of them could really remember for a solid ten minutes. Her mother shouted this story to me as she peeled out in her minivan, off to buy the kid a bike before school gets dismissed.
The only person who welcomes this dementia is my husband. Along with my freaky good memory came an ability to hold a grudge like a pit bull with a human arm in its jaws. These days, I can’t remember the things he did 15 years ago that I swore I’d remember (and complain about) forever. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed ready to divorce him – in the morning, I can’t figure out why I was so wound up. The smart man knows that if he gets an attitude from me while he’s at work, he might as well go out for a drink with his friends and let that amnesia do its job.
Of course, it can work to my sneaky little advantage. I can forget to pick up the dry cleaning or walk the dog. I can forget I promised Whit he could play golf. I can forget I offered to babysit someone’s kids or dog. You can actually live quite happily with a very, very limited memory.
Add to that limited hearing, and I totally understand why my dad is smiling all the time.
I think he’s on to something.