Real-Life Memento

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I worry about my memory.

I’ll be standing in the storage room, wracking my brain trying to remember why I went in there in the first place. “What did I need, what did I need,” I mutter over and over until it comes to me.

Then the other night my husband and I were talking about — inexplicably — Clint Eastwood movies and while I could recall very specific things about that one film where he played a secret service agent and John Malkovich was the bad guy, I could not, for the life of me, remember the name. Nor could I remember the modern western he was in. I had to go a-Googling (“In the Line of Fire” was the secret service agent one) and Joe, who forgets everything, including how many years we’ve been married*, actually came up with the second one fairly quickly — “Unforgiven.” Of course, I did double-check him since, as I mentioned, his memory is terrrrrrrrrible. Sometimes, I’m not sure he remembers how many kids we have (psssst, Joe, there’s three of them!).

I, on the other hand, have always prided myself on amazing recall. When I was 11 or 12 and all sass, my grandpa made some plans to get together with friends.

“Who?” I asked.

He looked at me funny.

“Now, you don’t know them,” he said in his slow drawl. “Their names won’t mean anything so why do you want to know? You won’t remember them.”

“Yes I will.”

Gramps sighed and then rattled them off. And you know what? I remember them to this day: Lena Barr, Wally Doorflinger and Leroy Pund. Which, now that I type those, it strikes me that my grandpa very likely made up at least two of those names. But every year when he came to visit, the first thing I did when I saw him was shout out those names.

Joe, on the other hand, is more like the guy from the movie “Memento” who requires lots of Post-its and tattoos to jog his memory. When I need him to remember something, I not only tell him to his face but also text and email, sometimes multiple times. The trick is not to do it too far ahead or it’s like starting over. Just like Mr. Memento. So, usually I’ll mention about four to five days ahead and then keep up a steady stream of reminders.

As a way to stave off memory issues, I know you’re supposed to do sudoku and other brain teasers and while I’ll do the word jumble in the paper, I admit that if I can’t immediately look and figure out things in a few minutes, I just walk over to the computer and punch in letters on one of those word-unscrambler sites. I guess I don’t get credit for that.

So over this past three-day weekend, I was mentally scrolling through Saturday only and all that was ahead: dinner at a new restaurant, two birthday parties, one that required chauffeuring downtown and another just down the street. I then made the mistake of pointing out the fun fact that both kids, though at separate events, would be doing the same exact activity: one of those escape-room puzzle thingies.

Joe looked puzzled. “Wait, who needs to be taken to the Escape Room?”

Sigh. Honestly, the degree of difficulty on the weekend was a very modest 2.5.

But then, No. 3’s former basketball coach invited him to to an open gym and then asked if No. 3 could play in a game later that day and the mom of one of No. 3’s buddies called to see if I would be able to take them both to the game and….

Well, I could go on but quite frankly, I already lived it and I’m scared I’m tempting fate by bragging about what I pulled off once and so I might forget what I have to do and where I have to drive today. The main point of the story is that I don’t need no stinkin’ sudoku to keep my brain nimble. I juggle so many things and people on a daily basis that I have to have the most taut, in-shape gray matter, which is more than I can say for my abs. So while I can’t remember critical parts of Clint Eastwood’s oeuvre, at least I’ve never forgotten a kid somewhere. Well, not recently anyway.

*See previous post, Back in Time.

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