Some Impractical Things Remembered
Some people have a knack for numbers. They can easily recall phone numbers, locker combinations, baseball stats and the like. Some can rattle off a recipe they haven’t made in years. There are people who can tell you who wore what to which event, and those who know exactly how many coupons they have for Life cereal at any given time. The human brain is a weird and magical wonderland, and there’s really no rhyme or reason why we remember what we do — why certain things get stuck in the cracks, and others slip away completely.
Me, I remember things of no consequence. I don’t have the sort of mind that provides much help in a pub trivia game or that pulls up a seven-letter Scrabble word in a crunch. But the things that do stick with me have their own importance, even though they’re not of any practical use.
I remember where every single sock I own came from. It’s pretty easy to tell which came from Sock Dreams and which came from Walgreen’s, but I somehow have the knack to recognize which multi-packs all of my seemingly identical black anklets came from. I can tell you where and when I found the yellow stripe-y toeless socks, and from which bowling alley vending machine the little white anklets were procured. I even recall when I lost one of the socks in my favorite red-and-black pair, the one with the little skulls at the top.
I remember the first time I ever saw a Godzilla movie. It was broadcast in 3D and there was a big to-do about getting your special glasses (included with the Sunday paper’s TV listings section) and adjusting the colors on your set so that the red and the blue were just so. The effect didn’t work out very well on our black-and-white TV, but I wore the glasses anyway. I also had fish sticks that day. I was eight.
I remember all of the disaster foods Wyeth and I made back in the day: peanut butter tunafish pizza, marshmallow sugar cookie cubes and the like. Not only do I remember the ingredients, but I remember which pots and pans we had to scrub and which ones we just threw away. I also remember how I explained the missing cookie sheets to my mom.
I remember the first Elvis Costello cassette I ever owned: “Armed Forces.” I thought it was pretty cool that he covered Linda Ronstadt’s “Party Girl.” Let the caveat of youth stand: There was a copy of Ronstadt’s “Mad Love” LP in the house, too, and since I heard it before I heard “Armed Forces,” I naturally assumed Ronstadt’s version had come first. I hadn’t yet learned the fine art of liner note reading; I know better now.
I remember a day from third grade when minute was one of our spelling words. The teacher explained: “When spelled this way, minute meaning a measure of time can also be minute, meaning very small.” And I wondered, for years afterward, how else would you spell minute?
I remember the layout of my hometown grocery store back when it was a “Dobie Gillis”-style mom & pop-type place, and I remember when they remodeled the store to put in aisles that were wide enough to drive a car through.
I remember the feeling you get in the planetarium, when it seems like the entire room tips backwards just a little bit, and you kinda want to go to sleep, but you wanna learn about supernovas, too, and science wins out because it’s cool and there are explosions.
All of these things are more dear to me than my high school locker combination, anyway. If they’d only hold a pub trivia night with questions about black socks and peanut butter tunafish pizza, I’d whip everyone’s ass.