Herald-Journal Herald and Journal, May 18, 1998

Remembering is a trivial pursuit


I called Sid, my brother, on Monday to wish him a happy birthday.

We have both hit our fifth decade.

In our family it is standard practice to call each other on birthdays to do a little friendly harassing about their age.

Sid and I compared notes about how it has become increasingly difficult to remember things. I was glad to hear someone else complain about this problem because lately I seem to be nearly brainless.

Sid made an interesting observation. He asked me if I remembered the name of the bus driver that drove us to school when we were kids. I remembered the name immediately. "Darrell Messer," we both said.

"That's why we can't remember all the stuff we need to know now. Our brains are full of everything we remembered along the way, and we don't have room for the new stuff," Sid told me.

I have to agree. Recently I forgot that I had agreed to baby-sit for my three grandsons. My daughter just happened to call to see if it was still okay. Fortunately, I hadn't made other plans and she was still able to go to her friend's wedding shower.

It's interesting what your brain will choose to remember. I have always enjoyed playing Trivial Pursuit. This is a board game where knowledge of trivial things comes in handy. I guess I am quite a trivial person because no one in my family wants to play Trivial Pursuit with me any more. I want to answer my questions and everyone else's, too.

My husband has been astounded by my vast knowledge of trivia. Not that I can remember so many things, but I can remember all this unimportant information and I don't even know what our checkbook balance is. How would I know that? It keeps changing all the time.

At the same time, my mind seems to remember things spontaneously when I am not paying attention. All of a sudden a name or phrase will leap into my mind. "Boutras Boutras Galli" my brain will announce to me.

Wait a minute. I wasn't thinking about the United Nations or anything remotely connected to it. For some reason my brain has chosen this time to keep chanting the name of the former Secretary General.

Why would I need to remember this and forget that my doctor appointment on Tuesday was not at 2 o'clock, but 3:10? I like to arrive a little bit early if I can, but that was ridiculous. I am sure the ladies at the reception desk must have thought that my mind had slipped a cog. On the positive side, it gave me time to do some grocery shopping before my appointment.

Wouldn't it be great if we could just recycle our brain cells? We could toss out all the old junk and let some new information in. Like a good spring cleaning!

Maybe then I ould remember the really important things in life again. Things like what I walked upstairs for this time.

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