Saturday, August 06, 2011


It's curious what your brain decides is important enough to file away. Based somehow on what an impact an event, story, a fact has upon you when you learn it, your brain either files it in memory or pitches it into File 13. We're to believe that our brain is employed by us, functions on our behalf, uses our own personal character, abilities, needs, and interests to help distinguish what to file and what to pitch. I beg to differ.

I can, for some screwball reason, recall some of the goofiest details of the waygone past, but can't remember what time I'm supposed to pick up my eldest from FCA. Oh relax. I always remember to pick him up. I just have to scramble to figure out whether it's over at 5:00 or 5:30.

For example, every time I see the word "cutout", I'm reminded of the time my sister-in-law was bra shopping at a great sale at Macy's. All the sale bras were in a big bin - the kind that looks like a messy underwear drawer where you have to rifle through it all to find what you're looking for. Well, sister got tired of looking and grabbed a bra that suited her. She exclaimed, "Oh look! This one has sweet little triangle shaped cutouts at the top of the cup. Yep. I'll take this one." She got home and tried it on quickly to realize the cutouts were not at the TOP of the cup. They were in, errr, in a much more revealing spot. Sorta slap dab in the middle.

Q: When is a sale not a sale?
A: When the sale bra you bought makes you look like you're not wearing a bra.

What's the point of that anyway? (Yes, yes, yes. I get the pun.)

So why in heaven's name would my brain perceive that is critical enough to remember while tossing aside the time I'm supposed to pick up my child?

Here's a good one. A friend of mine who had a quite precocious child recounted an incident to me while we were sitting around the country club pool once. Oh relax. We lived in a rural Georgia town where the country club cost about as much as a suburban Atlanta YMCA.

"I guess we forgot to lock the bedroom door." Stories that start with that sentence never end well. She leaned forward and spoke in an embarrassed whisper. "Glenn and I were engaged in passionate, all-consuming - uhhh - intimacy. 'K? Suddenly," she says with much redness about the face, neck, and ear tips, "I feel something tickling my feet."

Uh oh. Do you know anyone whose chest begins to get very red and blotchy when they're upset? Then from the chest, the red blotchiness spreads to their neck, betraying their feigned attempt at confidence, composure, aplomb?

She screamed. Glenn took it as a compliment. Tamara jerked and craned her neck over Glenn's shoulder to see their son, all of aged 7, standing at the bottom of the bed.


I remember the story almost word for word. I remember the swimsuit she was wearing and the color of her eyeliner. I remember the time of day and the color beach towel I had flung on the pool chaise. I even remember the book I was reading at the time. I recall the comment my mother-in-law had when I told her that story. "That child oughta be glad his parents love each other."

That family moved away shortly after and sadly we did not keep in touch. Yet, even though my brain can retrieve that story in its entirety with details intact, I can't remember which one of my friends loves avacados and which one had a doctor appointment I need to ask after.

I only hope that when I tell them the story about Tamara and Glenn, they'll laugh so hard and love me so much for my funny stories they'll forgive me for not remembering that I should be asking about their doctor's report.

No, I don't think I'm in charge of what gets saved to the grey matter and what goes to the recycle bin. Is it a cop-out? Maybe. Do I get points for wanting to remember the important stuff? Maybe. Regardless, it is what it is. I adore my friends, my family, and I'm thinking, I'm fairly certain, confident even, that they know it. What I don't have in memory I hope I'm making up for in attention, empathy, and time spent.

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