When I was growing up, I thought memory was something you lost when you got older. Periodically, one of my parents would stand at the top of the stairs and call down, “Raiz…Faig…Lip…Dass…Mordechai!
Well, you’ll be glad to know that I’m not there yet. Neither are you, probably. Neither are my parents, if you ask them. I bet you can’t remember the last time you forgot something, right?
I bet you can’t remember the last time you forgot something, right?
For a while, you insist that it’s not you. You yell things like, “Where on Earth are my car keys? Someone keeps moving them!” Yes, to the pocket of the pants you were wearing yesterday.
But there are signs. Sometimes I pour myself a glass of juice, and then a half hour later, I’m thirsty again. So I go into the kitchen to pour another glass, and I find the original glass, still sitting on the counter, with juice in it. Apparently, it’s not drinking the juice that quenches my thirst, it’s pouring it. And in fact, one Friday a couple of months ago I decided to make myself some hot cocoa, so I put a cup of milk in the microwave, and my wife found it in there on Monday morning. That might be a sign.
But then there are some things that everyone forgets. For instance, whenever I go anywhere, I almost always forget where I parked my car.
You might ask, “Why don’t you write down where you parked, so you remember?”
Yeah. That’s what I forget to do. My number one concern when I’m leaving my car isn’t “Okay, let’s remember where we parked!” It’s, “Yay! I found a parking space! It’s almost time to go home already! Let’s run into the store without looking back!”
Also, sometimes my wife will look at me and say something like, “Her last name was ‘Weinstein’.” And I’ll say, “What?” And she’ll say, “Remember I was talking to you on Thursday about some girl I went to school with, and I couldn’t remember her name?” And I’ll say, “No.” And she’ll say, “Boy, do you have a lousy memory.”
Sure, once in a while I’ll forget a name too. Sometimes I’m at a party and someone comes over to me, and he clearly recognizes me and starts up a conversation, and I just smile and play along because I’m hoping I’ll eventually remember who he is. But then I’ll realize that this has been going on for a good ten, eleven minutes, and I still have no idea who he is, and by then it’s too late to ask him. So I just keep nodding along and hope that a meteor crashes through the roof before I have to introduce him to someone else.
Sure, I have my own way of dealing with these instances of memory loss. I write things down. In fact, that’s how I got started writing articles. That way if I can’t remember, say, if I’ve seen my sister since she had her baby, I can ask just about anyone who reads them. It’s like being a yenta, without all the work. The only problem is that it doesn’t help me to remember names, because I never use real ones.
“Her name is Raizel.”
“No it isn’t. I made that up.”
I recently came across a UK Telegraph article that says that some drug companies are making a weaker version of Alzheimer medication for people who just want to boost their memories. Like before a big test, or a wedding of extended family members you barely know.
This is great news. Of course, if I had those pills, I would probably come back home after the wedding to find a pill and a glass of juice still waiting for me on the counter. Where’s the pill that reminds you to take the pill?
Where’s the pill that reminds you to take the pill?
Also, one of the side effects of the pill is that it raises blood pressure. Of course it does. The whole reason you’re not stressed out all the time is that you don’t remember all the things you have to be stressed about, like your car problems or your bills or that you forgot to pick up your mother-in-law from the airport.
So there has to be a way to remember things without medication. Maybe if there was some way of deleting the memories that we don’t need any more. Because I’m pretty sure that is the real reason our memory goes as we get older – we just have too much junk up there.
“That’s ridiculous!” you might say, if you’re older. “What kind of junk can you possibly have up there? All my life I had to remember everything, and these young people nowadays get to store it all in their Blueberries.”
Maybe so, but the reason we know exactly how to use those so-called “Blueberries” is that we have the entire 200-page instruction manual stuck in our heads. Not only that, but our heads contain the instruction manuals of every phone we have ever owned. We still know exactly how to use the very first phone our parents gave us when we went away to school. What good is that going to do us? It’s not like it’s going to come back.
And with all those phone numbers we’re storing in our electronic devices, do you know which phone number we do remember? The very first phone number we ever had, back when we were kids and our parents made us memorize it in case we got lost. Like if we were at a park and got separated, they would run home and check their machine. But we still remember it. Why is it still in there? In case we want to call ourselves? Or call the nice Portuguese family that now lives in our childhood home?
And that’s not all you would delete, if you had the chance. You would also delete some of the dates you learned back in high school, such as 1066. Sometimes you’re trying to remember whether you have any ketchup left in the house, and it pops up: “1066”. What happened in 1066? You have no idea, but the date is still stuck in there. You also remember the name of your third-grade English teacher, Mrs. Berman. And because you have stuff like that in your head, you can’t always remember the name of your third child. Or when your anniversary was.
Mine was last week. Uh oh.