Here's the Scoop: May 6, 2009
That’s how I remember it. I think.
I don’t believe I’m alone when it comes to not always being able to remember things.
The fact I sometimes can’t recall something that I “learned” can be pretty annoying. For instance, I’m terrible with driving directions. Much of this is due to the laziness inspired by usually having a “navigator” during out-of-town trips.
My reliance on a driving companion to tell me “where to go” does have some drawbacks. Often, after taking a wrong turn, I hear comments like, “You can remember Ron Swoboda’s batting average in the 1969 World Series and you can’t recall which I-95 exit to take on this trip we’ve made 25 times?” I guess the thing is that I-95 was never my hero. And I have no trading cards with I-95 accident statistics or anything.
In college, we learned about a philosopher (whose name I can’t remember) who had a theory that “All error is due to inattention.” This theory is pretty decent on its own, but it doesn’t go far enough.
As a result, I have recently been working on a theory of my own: “Forgetfulness by one is remembered by others.”
What I mean by this is that I think that for every person (like me) who has trouble remembering stuff, there’s someone out there who can recall, well, just about everything. If you believe them.
I’m sure you’ve met people who fit this description. For instance, I was talking to someone the other day and we were looking at a picture that was about four decades old. Commenting on the photo, this acquaintance pointed to one of the subjects, described the events of the day and told the person in the picture, “You were chewing gum that day.”
Cause for pause
I was taken aback for a moment. This person made this claim with such certainty that it was easy to believe her. Unless you stopped to figure out she would have been about two years old at the time.
Still, people remember weird things. In fact, the person who seemed to have fond memories of “The Chewing Gum Incident,” (TCGI) as we have dubbed this episode, does have a pretty good recollection of things. But is it that good?
After TCGI, I began to look back (as much as I could remember) at some of the other claims this person had made over the years. I began to discover gaping holes in her stories. The problem with people who “remember” everything, I decided, is that they are relying on the fact that few others would dare spout such recollections. Thus, their stories are hard to dispute — despite a great amount of eye-rolling and head-shaking.
Because I usually make no boasts about things I can’t remember, I have come up with a standard response to what I feel are tall tales: “I’m not sure what really happened, but I know it’s not what you said.” That sort of covers the territory.
A few days after TCGI, I was talking with “Rain Woman” and the topic of baseball arose. As long as the subject doesn’t involve the best route to take getting to the ballpark, my Memory Meter takes a huge jump in this department.
I knew Rain Woman was a longtime Orioles fan, so I decided to test her knowledge of America’s Pastime.
“How about when the O’s beat the Mets in ’69?” I asked her. “I’ll bet you still cherish that season.”
Without “batting” an eye, she responded, “I wish. If only Ron Swoboda didn’t have that great series for the Mets, it might have turned out much better for Baltimore.”
Ah, yes, but was he chewing gum?