Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Salad Bar of Memories

We have a tendency to cherry-pick our memories, choosing only the ripe and tasty moments to savor. We avoid those memories that are not under the sneeze shield, or that look neglected and stale. Sometimes you think to yourself, I'll just try a bite of this memory. How bad can it be? But like the pasta salads at Shoney's, some memories are so heavy that they stay with us for the rest of the night, and may even cause indigestion and bad dreams. We wake up in a cold sweat, muttering "I can't believe I remembered that whole thing."

When I recall the memory of my younger brother, showing his pubescent friends where I stashed my small collection of adult magazines -- those precious Penthouse issues, hidden on a shelf behind the heating vent -- it brings to mind the day I came home from an outing, and went upstairs to find that my mom had cleaned my room. (Why do mom's do that?) I looked under the bed, and it was obvious that she had found my two issues of Oui magazine. Obvious because they were no longer there. I can still feel that young male anxiety, knowing that I would get a "talking to." They just wanted to know where I got them and they were adamant, but I wasn't about to give up my source. (I got them from my neighbor down the street. He stole them from his older brother. There! Forty-five years later. I finally said it! )

On the positive -- and non porn side, I have a vague memory of winning a major award at some local yokel fair when I much younger. I found a needle in a haystack, or rather I scrambled around in a big dusty pile of hay, grabbing as many pennies as I could find. The prize was an oversized Teddy bear that I kept for years, but, as with most major awards, it eventually found its way to the landfill. (I still have my original Teddy bear, with his threadbare coat, and his appendectomy scar.) There were no other major awards in my youth, but I once won a weekly coloring contest in the local newspaper. I don't have any real recollection of this event, but I do have the newspaper clipping, showing me accepting a check for ten dollars, which is more reliable than any memory. It's there in black and white.

I'm sure the memories that my siblings and I have of our common childhood vary greatly. We don't share the same DNA, although we do share the same DAD and MOM. We grew up in the same household, but what one child may have experienced as traumatic, the others may not have even witnessed. My brother perfectly recalls all those times when I teased him, acting like the typical older brother. I remember riding in the back seat of my parent's old baby blue Rambler with my sister, going to pick up my brother from the foster home for the first time. For years I had a very clear memory of a puppy being stuck at the bottom of the uncovered sewer tank in the backyard, but my parent's swear that tragedy never happened. I have enough animal tragedies in my head that did happen, so I guess I can let that memory go, but that's easier said than done.

We may think that we freely browse over our past, choosing the memories that best suit the present version of ourselves, but maybe our memories choose their own moments to reveal themselves. Every time we reassemble a past event it is slightly different from the previous time that we recalled it. Details fall away. Names are forgotten. Who are we without our memories? Or maybe the better question is who are we with our memories?

Every Sunday is all-you-can-remember Sunday!!
 Kids always remember free!!
Adults $17.99, plus a few years of therapy.
(We do not recommend under-cooked memories.)

Just a few of our many tasty choices!!

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