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Shell Shocked: Memory man

By Staff | Feb 10, 2016

I was having trouble finding things in my house recently. I’d put my reading glasses down somewhere and couldn’t locate them minutes later. I realized they were sitting on top of my head.

I was trying to find the latest copy of the Islander so that I could read Joe Pacheco’s latest poem on the meaning of Brooklyn, but couldn’t find that either. I then heard the washer buzz and to my astonishment I realized I had just washed the Islander and it was ready for the dryer.

This couldn’t go on. I made an appointment with a memory specialist whose name was Elias Forgetmenot. I described my current scatterbrain episodes. The good doctor said: “I have just the medicine for you. It’s just been approved by the FDA and its purpose is to restore memory, so that you won’t forget where you put things or anything that’s ever happened to you.”

“Great,” I said. “That’s exactly what I need.”

I started taking the medication and unusual things began to take place. A college buddy of mine visited with me in Sanibel and we started reminiscing about past adventures.

He said: “Remember that gal you and I met in Paris when we were in our 20’s? Wasn’t she something?”

I found myself responding: “Yes, her name was Yvonne LeFont, she had 12 freckles on her face, wore a Tissot watch, had a polka dotted dress and her mother’s name was Lucille. She was born in the south of France, had a best friend named Jeanne, wore pigtails until she was 12 and got an A on her math test in school.”

My friend’s jaw dropped. “How in the world can you possibly remember all those details about her? All I remember about her is her first name and the fact that she was pretty.”

I asked myself the very same question. All that information just poured out of me without my realizing that I had it. A few days later I was having a conversation with my financial advisor. He said to me: “Yes, I realize the stock market is acting peculiarly, but if you remember the same thing happened in 2007.”

I responded: “On Jan. 12, 2007, the Dow Jones had retreated 11 percent from the previous quarter, but responded with a 12 percent gain during the next 30 days. GE went from 10 to 27, Apple crossed the 100 marker and 22 IPO’s were in the works. Even the CNBC analyst said on March 23 that industrials and tech stocks were rising rapidly and should exceed their all time highs.” I paused just in time for my jaw to drop. How in the world did I remember all this?

My financial advisor also paused and said: “Maybe you should be giving me the historical basis for stock market investing and not vice versa.” We chuckled a bit and ended the conversation.

A cousin of mine and I had lunch. We hadn’t seen each other for about five years. She said: “The last time we saw each other was at a restaurant in New York. I can’t remember the name, but I do remember it was sometime during the summer.”

I said: “It was on July 22, 2010 and we ate at the A Voce Restaurant on Madison and 27th. I arrived 10 minutes late because I had an argument with the taxi driver over the fare. He had turned the flag off several streets before my destination, but added a dollar to the fare anyway. I told him that the fare should have been $6.75 not $7.75. We compromised on it. You had the luncheon special that day, which was New Zealand lamb chops and you chose a baked potato and peas and carrots as your vegetables. You skipped the dessert, but had cappuccino.”

My cousin gave me a look that would stop wars. “How could you possibly remember all that? I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast this morning.”

These incidents continued for about a month. I seemed to remember every detail of my life as well as other people’s. Friends were amazed at the trivia I could conjure up from years earlier. I kept telling them it was the new FDA approved pill I was taking. Before long my friends weren’t returning my phone calls. I realized I was boring them to death. I decided to stop taking the pill and live the life I lived before forgetful and absentminded.

Soon my friends began accepting me again and I found my reading glasses in the dishwasher. Life was good.

-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.