I have a tendency to remember things. I can tell you all about a red pair of Keds tennis shoes I had when I was two along with an entire conversation I had with my brother while he tied those particular shoes onto my feet. If I really put my mind to it, I can even remember the interior of the shoe store where I traded those shoes in for a blue pair of Keds and the nice man who measured my soles carefully and the graffiti on the wall of the movie theater next door to the shoe store. I think it began with an F…
OK, I remember a LOT and for years it seemed more like a curse than a blessing. I may not be good at specific dates, but few can argue with my ability to tell you where I was sitting and what I was wearing the day Mr. Asher’s grade book was stolen, what kind of bread my friend Jack’s mom kept in the box on her countertop and a myriad of other childhood memories that most people forget five minutes after they happen.
“How do you remember these things?” People ask. (Most of the time this question is accompanied by a look that says, “Why do you remember these things?”)
The answer is simple. I don’t know. I don’t know why I can hang on to the most trivial of details and for whatever reason, cannot memorize names and faces. I cannot identify someone by the sound of his or her voice, but I can have one conversation with a random guy at the local car dealership and four years later, I can tell you that his favorite 80s band is Ratt. Weird, huh?
Until Marilu Henner went public about her superior autobiographical recall, I didn’t think there was anyone in the world like me and I was eager to talk to someone who understood what it was like to hang on to so many memories. I asked her if she ever wished she could forget stuff and if anyone ever called her a know-it-all and she assured me that my ability to remember is a gift and that it’s fun to remember things.
Before saying goodbye, Henner asked me for my birthdate. Suspecting where she was going with the question I told her the date and then commented, “It was a Saturday.”
“Yes it was,” she verified, like I hadn’t attended my own birth. “But do you know what day of the week of your 21st birthday fell on?”
The wheels in my brain started turning. As I recall, my grandmother and parents took my oldest son and me to dinner at a local steak place. I wore a pink dress that I made myself and my father bought me my first glass of red wine. (OK it wasn’t my “first” glass, but let’s just say it was.) Mom, Dad and Grandma always went to dinner on Friday night, so that is what I concluded, based on the information running through my head.
“Nope, it was a Thursday,” Henner told me.
I was close, and when I told her what I could remember, she seemed impressed, but most of the time, my friends are annoyed by the stuff I come up with. I have come to the conclusion that most people are content to let the past remain in the past and only I find it interesting that I can pull out these complete, if random memories like they happened just last week.
Then again, if I couldn’t I suspect this column wouldn’t be half as entertaining. So thank you all for allowing me to put my memory to good use!