Tag Archives: memories

Brain washday

When you reach a certain age, you get tons of unsolicited advice on how to make the most out of your remaining years (months? minutes?). Half the new-old-age barkers give you the pitch that these times are magical and blessed, while the other half say, “Son, you’ve got one foot under the daisies already. Better shape up quick.” Without even trying, you run into something like this item from AARP, the print version of which was headlined, “Cleanse Your Brain.”

WARNING! DISCLAIMER! The foregoing phrase should NOT in any way be taken as an instruction to do something spectacularly ill-advised involving a cordless drill, a funnel, and a bottle of Mr. Clean. (Know what “trepanning” means in this context? Don’t even look it up.)

The article is legit science about the glymphatic system, which is what the brain uses to clear out damaged protein, dirty fluids, and other waste. It got me to thinking: what if I could purge the memory bank portion of my brain? That’d free up space on the cerebral hard drive for all the Important Stuff I need to absorb and retain, especially how to stave off wrinkles and decrepitude.  After 63 years and a few odd weeks, it’s time for a super-duper spring cleaning!

But what memories would I unload? Things like algebra, sociology, the infield fly rule, sentence diagramming, medieval history, how to drive a stick shift, and the name of the person I just met are already gone. What’s left to lose?

Getting beaten up on the playground and being hopeless at sports. Trashing those memories – several school years’ worth – would do wonders for my self-esteem. Ditto all my romantic rejections from junior high onward, job flubs, bad life choices, and other sundry gaffes like busting up my fender in the car wash. No, that didn’t happen! I’d remember if I’d been that dumb!

Song lyrics. “Satisfaction,” “Purple Haze,” “Crossroads,” “I Will Follow,” and “Once in a Lifetime” can stay. I do not ever need to recall “Don’t You Want Me,” “Achy Breaky Heart,” or anything by Madonna, the Eagles, or anyone named Osmond.

Everything I ever learned about manners and etiquette. Useless in today’s world. Go to a restaurant and see how many people never look up from their phones during dinner, even when the maitre d’ politely informs them the place is about to be engulfed by a volcano.

Sports trivia (a redundant phrase anyway). The games I saw from the stands in college? I’ll keep ‘em. The name of the backup quarterback on a 3-13 NFL team, so lousy I had to get tanked every Sunday to watch them on TV? Not so much.

Old TV shows.  I remember “My Mother the Car,” “Men Behaving Badly,” and many episodes of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Why?

Certain web surfing moments.  Not that I ever actually checked out “Vixen Virgins of Vegas” and the like, but if I somehow got there by mistake, it’d be helpful to truthfully not recall it.

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Almost August

It’s almost August and our summer lives again. Two weeks of highly unseasonable cold, clouds, and rain have given way to 90-degree days and plenty of sunshine. The pool water sparkles, and in the kitchen there’s a bowl of plump Georgia peaches, so perfectly ripe that the flesh just falls off the seed. Cut them too soon and they’re chewy, without much taste. Today they’re just right, but the window for enjoying them closes quickly, and it’s not the only one.

It’s almost August. When I was a kid, this was when you started to look over your shoulder for the first day of school, even though in my town, classes didn’t start until the day after Labor Day. So you darn sure made the most of every minute of summer break, purely on your own devices, no adults scheduling or supervising.

You’d head out the door in the morning knowing you’d find something to do. Maybe a ball game at the playground; we only needed eight guys, enough for a pitcher and three fielders on each side. Or kickball in the street right outside the front door, where first base was a tree, second was a filled-in pothole, third was the tree on the other side, and home was just a spot on the concrete. Every so often somebody yelled, “CAR!” and “play was suspended” while it passed.

In the afternoon, a kid might come along on a pedal-powered ice cream cart with all kinds of treats, including big, frosty fudgsicles, my favorite. Evenings, we’d gather again, just hanging out, then heading home when it got dark. You might walk home with a girl if you were at that age, talking, heart beating a little faster than usual, trying not to be uncool.

I’m not a parent and don’t mean any of this as criticism of the way kids spend their time today. But the freedom we had back then left me with some precious gifts: being able to find my own fun, truly enjoy every moment, and sometimes do nothing much at all, for no good reason, and love it. And there’s no better time than right now.

It’s almost August and now it’s almost dusk. Open the windows on the porch and let the breeze drift in through the screens. Listen to the crickets. Look at the lightning bugs and the first few stars, then a few more.

Get yourself a good summer beer, something wheaty but clean. Turn on the ball game, even if that overpriced outfielder is 0 for 4 and they’re about to drop another one. Sit on the swing and rock gently, easily back and forth. Faintly, from somewhere up the street, you can hear the kids laughing.

It’s almost August.