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Memory.

I’ve spent the first half of my lunch hour today chatting with former classmates on Facebook. We have been talking about the old days at school and it is becoming quite apparent that I must have some sort of memory disorder because I remember too many things with too much detail to be labeled normal. I remember the names of teachers, their assigned room numbers (I wonder if my favorite math teacher is still in Room 202?), the names of teachers that retired before I even got to that grade, the bell schedule of the high school and the fact that the bell used to signal a class change was an A-flat played over the PA speakers. I guess it’s somewhat natural, due to my fascination with clocks, that I remember that the bell rang three seconds after the clock positioned itself to the right time for the class change and that teachers would insist we wait for the bell, even though I don’t think they would have been able to cram anymore learning into the moments between 09:36:00 and 09:36:03. I could also share that this quirk appeared in 1981 when the master clock in the main office was replaced but that would be downright spooky.

Ask me what I had for supper two nights ago and I probably could remember if I thought about it hard enough. I know that I’m trying to forget last night’s supper, which was at a Chinese buffet that we lovingly call “China Nazi” because when we go in the hostess, and I use that term loosely, motions us to our table and proclaims, “You sit THERE!”. Her tone makes me want to bark out a “Heil Hitler!” but I don’t because that’s a totally different continent.

I’m pretty good with dates for the most part, though today I wished our friend Mike a happy birthday when his birthday is on Sunday. I always think he’s just shy of a month younger than me when in reality he is a month and a day younger than me. I remember my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary in 1979 for no apparent reason (other than they’re family). I remember most my cousins’ birthdays. Earl proclaimed he didn’t know his brother’s phone number the other night but I told him what it was. The digits are nearly the same as 62 WHEN in Syracuse and somewhat in the neighborhood of Route 481, also in Syracuse, so it’s simple math, at least in my head. By the way, his brother lives nowhere near Syracuse but I suppose he would fit in if he lost the Philly accent.

One thing that makes me hesitant with my memory is names. Some may notice that it takes a few encounters before I will address someone I have met during my adult years by their name. I hate getting names wrong because it’s kind of embarrassing. When I was in the hospital in 8th grade, the next room over in pediatrics had a patient named Carrie but I always called her Marcia because I thought she looked like a Marcia. My roommate, Eric, reminded me several times and that made me hesitant to call someone by name if I can’t remember it. I usually have an idea of what a person should be named by appearance. That being said, I don’t know that I have ever actually called someone Creepella to their face. Okay, I did that one time and she was not amused.

I attribute this memory talent, for lack of a better word, completely to my father. I owe him for inheriting that trait, because he could be downright spooky too. During the days of the family store, a customer could walk in, having not been in the store for a decade, and my father would say hello like it was yesterday and remind them of the pound of 10-common nails they had purchased the last time they were there, usually sometime in the mid 1970s (even though the present date was sometime in the late 1980s). The same customer would then look at me, thinking I was really good at math, as I rang them up because I didn’t have to use the calculator or reference a tax chart to compute the tax required for their purchase. It wasn’t that I was doing math in my head, I had just memorized the tax chart. Think of the time I could save on figuring out my purchases today if the sales tax rate was still 4%! I wouldn’t have to use my fingers or anything.

All of this memory stuff comes full circle though, when friends and family remind me of something that they have told me a half dozen times in the past month. “I forgot!”

I think I need to upgrade my RAM. I have too much stuff up there.

 

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