For The Daily Prompt: Memory On The Menu
One of my longtime friends said to me recently, “Hey Joe, do you remember the time we went to NYC and blew all our tax refund checks on hot-looking strippers, and a ton of pot and booze?”
“Oh yeah, I remember that!” I exclaimed to him without hesitation. “One stripper’s name was Sunshine, and the other one’s name was Janet. They both turned out to be undercover cops working the club.”
He stared at me quizzically for a moment, then said, “Damn, dude, that’s weird. You remember their names? ”
“Of course I do. Remember how one had a tattoo of Mickey Mouse on her ass and the other one threw up behind the club in the garbage dumpster, and I drove her home? She lived across the street from Washington Square Park and drove a 1972, yellow, Volkswagen with a convertible top.
“Damn, bro, you remember all that, too? That was, like, twenty-six years ago.”
“Hell yeah. How could I forget?”
For as long as I can remember (no pun intended) I have always been able to recall minute details from the past that no one else can. It is if my memory defies logic and possesses an unlimited amount of data storage. Twenty-years ago appears no different to me than yesterday. I can tell you about a short conversation, almost word for word, that I had with someone a decade ago or a score I got on a particular, math test in fifth-grade.
Some people call that impossible, but there is scientific research that proves otherwise.
People with an extraordinary memory, or Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) exist in all walks of life. Although they are no intellectually advanced than anyone else, they are still a curiosity, and a medical oddity that scientists have studied for years. Usually, certain areas of their brains (like the temporal and parietal lobes) are larger than people who do not have the same ability.
Most people might think that having such a gift is an advantage in life. This could be true if one is playing poker in a casino or taking a test, but in other aspects it can be a debilitating, crutch. Trying to forget traumatic experiences from the past can be more difficult and life-threatening that requires constant conditioning.
Not being able to block out or forget negative memories is like being trapped in a video replay that has no ending. What wants to be forgot can never be forgotten. It goes on and on forever and never seems to find a final, resting place in one’s mind.
I laugh when I get calls from my friends asking me specific questions about the past.
My one friend, Anthony, used to tell people to call me if they needed to find out what someone’s girlfriend’s name was or why someone got busted by the cops in the past. “Call Joe, he’ll remember that,” he would always tell our friends.
I probably will not remember it, but then again, maybe I will. Maybe I won’t tell you I remember something – like something you hope I never remember.
On the flip side, having a freaky memory has its upsides.
Timeless memory is like having the keys to unlock the doors to a happier place in time. I can still recall in vivid detail the great times me and my family would have every summer at Anthony Wayne Park in the Catskills Mountains in upstate New York. The way all our families would get together and spend fun-filled weekends in the woods is a memory I will cherish forever.
It is those times, that I am happy for the gift I have, and it is those times, that it is so much easier to forget the negative ones.
Joseph e. Rathjen is a freelance writer and an Opinion Writer at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Research Engine.
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