Memory is weird. Mine is, anyway.
I can remember with perfect clarity stuff from 30, 40, even 50 or more years ago. I know the names of most of the people in my first grade class. I remember every single birthday cake my mother baked for me. I recall all my old phone numbers, addresses and even a few locker combinations.
Yesterday’s breakfast is another matter entirely. Heck, today’s breakfast is another matter entirely. In fact, I’m not even sure that I ate breakfast.
That said, my memory status has not yet been downgraded to Absent-Minded Professor or even worse, Doddering Old Guy. For those of you who haven’t see the chart, Absent-Minded Professor is when you walk around looking for the glasses that are perched on top of your head. Doddering Old Guy, on the other hand, is when you walk into a room looking for something and instantly forget what you went in there for.
After that comes Nutbar, which is when you walk into a room looking for something and forget which room it is, and then Total Loss, which is when you have to be reminded to breathe once in a while.
Memory, or the weirdness of it, has been much on my mind lately, seeing as how we are heading full-tilt into Reunion Season. I have two coming up back-to-back: my 40th anniversary high school reunion, followed by the annual reunion of my mother’s family, the McKenzies.
Reunions – high school, family and otherwise – are all about memories. Even the occasional truthful ones.
I think the biggest lie to be found at high school reunions is What A Great Time We All Had Back Then. It is a complete fabrication. Speaking from my own experience, high school was OK at best – interesting on occasion, enjoyable once in a while, but mostly something to be endured, a slow-moving river of drudgery, hail to thee O alma mater.
My friends and I had fun, but it pretty much took place outside the halls of academia. High school was the price we paid to enjoy ourselves evenings, weekends and summers, and I always thought we were overcharged.
Not that you hear this stuff at reunions. Oh, no. You hear how great things were and how cute we all were and how we loved our teachers and how everything was better back then, even school lunches. If that’s not a clue that people are deluded, I don’t know what is.
But I know from experience that there’s no other side to the coin, because the last time I tried to show it, 10 years ago, I got the 30-years-later version of the lecture beginning, “Mike Redmond you have no school spirit.” I heard that one a lot. I got an early start on being an iconoclast.
Family reunions are different. You can’t lie about stuff in the past because chances are these people know your past better than you do. So that leaves the present (“Why, no, actually I’ve lost a few pounds”) and future (“I start my diet tomorrow.”) The nice thing is, everyone is telling the same fibs, so no one can call you out for being a liar lest they, too, be exposed.
I guess I’ll see it all at my reunions this month.
Assuming I remember to attend.