The Copious Spuriousness of Memory or What the Butler Saw

UO lab advances research on memory formation and recall | Around the O

The first thing I remember is my parents telling me to forget what I just saw… and I think I remember a body; but, a lot of things look like a body. I also remember standing on our banister-less stairs as a child and looking down at the long drop to the floor. Suddenly, the floor rushed up and hit me in the face. I haven’t trusted floors since. I remember Space Food Sticks: Mildly flavored tubes of vitamin-fortified earwax meant to trick seven year olds into thinking they were part of the space program. I remember the Beta-Max and how it rushed into a burning building to save all those orphans, although I might have mis-remembered that one…

I’ve always envied people who can go through a stack of photographs and reminisce. I feel no more connection with images than I do with a reptile in a glass case. My mother, while watching films of us as toddlers, transformed from stoic pioneer woman to gibbering cooing idiot right before our eyes. Oooh! Here comes Charlie… here comes Charlie… Oops! He faw down! Of COURSE I faw down… I still had a concussion from falling off the stairs.

I think the reason that photographs don’t move me is because, unlike memories, photographs are not adjustable. This is why alcohol, the worst drug since nutmeg, is so popular. You might’ve thought it was the stupidity, the throwing up or the inflated sense of $12,000 A Bottle & Up – The Hollywood Reporter“you’re not about to get punched out”; but, it is because any memories of what we do under the influence of alcohol is adjustable. You weren’t a lurching hog who vomited on an omelet bar… you were witty and urbane and for some reason they arrested you for THAT. For a photograph to compete with that, it would have to change depending upon your level of shame.

But, can you blame us for wanting to adjust our memories? I watch everything I do, say and think almost twenty-four hours a day and it turns out that I’m essentially an atrocity. Even my mildest sexual fantasies, if spoken allowed, would get me put into a straitjacket and that straitjacket would be put in another straitjacket, just in case. I’ve done horrible things that would make your hair turn white… they made my hair turn white, although I suspect a lot of that is just age. My darkest thoughts make Hitler look like a character in the Hundred Acre Wood by comparison. And, the worst part is, I consider myself more ethical than you and I don’t even KNOW which of you is reading this right now…

So, how do we forget? Oddly enough, there are several ways to forget about something we’ve seen or done. There are a few I cannot recall because I was testing out other methods of forgetting and used them as target memories. Mission accomplished, I say.

The simplest method of forgetting is time-honored: Join the Foreign Legion. The Foreign Legion is a French military force specifically trained to function in areas besides France. For example: They fought to keep Algeria free, despite the objections of Algeria. Yes, stuff like this involves a lot of desert marches but it does the trick. You’ll be so busy kicking Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950) - Rotten Tomatoesyourself for joining the Legion in the first place that you’ll forget everything. Sadly, you won’t forget having joined the Foreign Legion…

Alcohol is the worst way to forget; in fact, you still remember everything while drunk except how to walk a straight line and recite your ABCs. The only time alcohol helps you forget is when it inspires you to drive without tires and pants-less across a baseball diamond during a little league game because tasering works like shock therapy a little. Eventually, your memories come back, though. Alcohol only adjusts memories of when you were intoxicated. So, if you are going to use it for that, I recommend you stay drunk most of the time because you never know what you are going to do or at what children’s sporting event you’ll be doing it.

You can replace bad memories with other memories. It’s easy! Start by using the passive tense to describe whatever abomination you performed. YOU didn’t sneak into your neighbor’s yard with a can of gasoline and burn down his dog, your neighbor’s dog “was burned down”. YOU didn’t bludgeon a cripple with a bottle of cranberry juice cocktail and then try to roll him into traffic, a cripple was “bludgeoned and rolled into traffic by some soul-less jackass”. WHO was that soul-less jackass? We’ll know soon enough after the memories have been filtered through your ego and then threatened into submission by your id.

You can develop a second personality. Personally, I think this one is overkill, but it might lead to a book or movie deal so keep it on the table…

Or, you can man up and face what you did… unless you are a woman; then, you’d have to man-ette up or whatever women do when they are taking responsibility for themselves. When I was a child, I tossed an apple into the toilet. My mom was a real stickler for eating what you take but the apple was in pretty bad shape. I didn’t want the guilt of not eating it especially when my dad was home because he was in the Navy and all those “starving kids in Asia”, he knew by name. I remember a protracted session with a plunger, a LOT of swearing and then an inquisition. I did NOT do the noble thing at the time… but, I thought about it and decided to confess to it just thirty-five years later. It felt good to get that off my chest. And, my parents were okay with it… they understood completely…

at least that’s how I remember it…

Rome Apples | Apples | Foodtown

10 thoughts on “The Copious Spuriousness of Memory or What the Butler Saw

  1. You can be crushed by the weight of your memories … until you turn 50 anyway, that’s when it all just fades away … like Grape Ape and Beagly Beagly

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but I don’t think an apple a day in the toilet would keep the plumber away. Good thing you took the plunge(r)….or was that your dad? In any case, confession is good for the sole purpose of getting it off your chest — now you can rest in peach (or apples, if you’ve learned your lesson).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To “woman up” may be the equivalent of “It’s my time of the month!” Nothing absolves you quicker. Men high tail it away from you and other women stand with you in solidarity and just nod in understanding.

    Liked by 2 people

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