My memory

I have a terrible memory. It is atrocious. I was never good at that damn game, “memory” where you had to flip over the cards and match them? Remember? I was always bad at memorizing the states or the capitols or whatever random thing we had to remember for civics. I’ve always been bad at stuff like that. Actually, what I should say is that I have an exceedingly selective memory. My memory is as picky as a four year old, and the only thing it will consume is macaroni and cheese, chicken McNuggets, and the occasional handful of powdered sugar (and yes, this is all I would eat as a four year old)

(Mom: I did not eat powdered sugar out of the box every time you and daddy were out in the garden. I also did not watch with anticipation and glee for that moment when you and daddy were particularly involved picking tomatoes or whatever to run to the pantry and open said box of powdered sugar. Also: I did not eat half a stick of butter once because I thought I would like it. And, I did not realize that eating straight butter is disgusting and almost throw up on the floor immediately. I don’t know how my fingerprints got into the butter, and I don’t know why I was sometimes covered in white powder. It must have been all the coke I was doing when I was three. That is the only explanation)

You see, because sometimes I have a really good memory. I can remember trivia like nobody’s business! I can also remember historical facts, which, HELLO! good thing there Miss historian. But really, the only thing I can remember with almost complete confidence are quotes from The Simpsons. The library inside my head of the sage wisdom of Homer and Bart Simpson (but not Lisa, she’s dead to me), Grandpa Simpson, Disco Stu, Apu, Chief Wiggum, Cletus, and various other supporting characters is vast. This was great in college, because I cannot tell you how many boys I impressed by being able to drop random, vague Mr. Burns quotes into conversation, but as a useful life skill? Not so much. Also, I can remember, of all things, the motherfucking quadratic formula.

I cannot even begin to convey the rage that I feel welling up inside me whenever this pops into my head. The bitter tang of negative integers chokes me with irony! Alas, mathematical skills! Why have you forsaken me, leaving only this cruel shell of an equation to taunt me with the knowledge that I will never have the skill of figuring you the hell out?

I place the blame for this solely upon the shoulders of my 10th grade math teacher (whose name, surprise!, I totally cannot remember), who taught us the quadratic formula by attaching it to the tune “three blind mice.” As in “negative B, negative B, plus or minus the square root, plus or minus the square root, of B squared minus 4 AD…” and etcetera, in the unholy combination of mathematical terms and obnoxious, repetitive nursery rhymes.

Now the great irony in this is not that I actually remember this formula, but that I remember this formula in combination with the fact that I have absolutely no mathematical skills whatsoever. And I can hear you all going, “oh, me too, I suck at math.” Let me tell you something, Einstein (who was a physicist, damnit! yes, this I know, but my math skill are so sub-par, that I don’t even know of a single mathematician off the top of my head. Oh wait!! Blaise Pascal? Wasn’t he a mathematician?). Let me tell you something, Blaise Pascal, with your fancy French accent and your mastery of your multiplication tables, you know nothing of being bad at math!

Math is my kryptonite. If you put me in a cage, with bars made out of numbers and formulas, I would surely weaken and lose all of my fabulous powers. I would lose my ability to cock my left eyebrow! My magical non-southern accent would diminish and I would be left uttering “git!” and “oh my gawd!” My hair would suddenly insist on being dried before I went to sleep at night, thus not allowing me to go to sleep on wet hair and wake up with nice, soft waves! (these are my principal powers, mind you)

I struggle with even the simplest of math. I cannot add double digit numbers together without really thinking about it. I still don’t know how to do long division. What is 8×7? Seriously, what is it? I have no idea! This never really bothered me much, with the exception of bringing down my GPA on a regular basis, because I had many other things that sufficiently made up for them. For example, I know the grammatical law that makes it ok to us “me” instead of “I” when speaking personally. (ie. My mother and I went to the store (BUT) The horse belongs to my mother and me.) I also am reasonably good with accents, am fabulous at Trivia Pursuit, and can read 600-page novel in an afternoon. So math? You can suck it!

Except that it doesn’t actually work out that way.

Because, you see, it isn’t actually math that gets me, it’s numbers. All numbers. They confuse and befuddle me. I’m terrible with dates, addresses, codes, and most especially, phone numbers. Phone numbers are the bane of my existence! I have always, always, always been bad at memorizing them. I have, currently, only about 4 or 5 that I know off the top of my head, and to memorize a new one means that I have to forget an old one. They have to rotate!

Now, typically, this isn’t that big of an issue, because I have my cell phone and I write numbers down everywhere and I generally do ok, but, BUT, when I am asked for a phone number, particularly my own, it often makes me freeze. Suddenly, all numbers are flushed out of my memory and odd ones will pop up and expel themselves from my mouth. It is almost as if they have been trapped in the dark oblivion of my mind, subsisting on dust mites and moss (and, on one tragic occasion, have to eat one of their own. My phone number when I was a child will never be the same…) and when they see the opportunity presented, most often in the form of my mouth hanging open as I stammer for a random grouping of numbers, they will fling themselves toward the light, thus resulting in my giving people the wrong numbers.

This exact same thing happened to me just yesterday, as I called to make an appointment to see the doctor (routine checkup, nothing to worry over!). Of course, they asked me for my phone number, and as I stammered to remember what in the name of GOD my phone number was, out burst one of the ones hiding in my subconscious and I listened in HORROR and EMBARASSMENT as I proceeded to give the nice receptionist my cell phone number from when I was in college. Now, if I take a minute and do my math (bear with me) this would mean that the last time I had that phone number was hmmm… 2007-2004 which equals (hmm…carry the 6)….3!! THREE YEARS AGO. And I had another phone number between that one and the one I had before, which means I really have no excuse in the world for spitting that one forth.

Now, what makes this particularly galling (as if I wasn’t frustrated enough) is that only 4 days ago, my brother-in-law called me asking me for my father’s cell phone number and I could not remember it. Not for the life of me. Now, my father’s cell number is only 1 number off from that same phone number I had in college, which means I knew it (do you see how that works?? I only had to memorize ONE extra number and I knew two! God bless it! I should make everyone I call switch their phone numbers to be almost exactly like mine!) Well, I knew it then, but I sure as hell don’t know it anymore (Daddy, you can blame Pete, because I have to remember a whole extra AREA CODE if I want to call him! It’s taking up a lot of my brain capacity). So I had to make my brother-in-law call my mom at WORK (because hoo-wee I know that one!) to ask what my father’s cell phone number is.

And then, THEN, only four goddamn days later, here comes this number, clawing for freedom, finding its way out of my mouth and into the records of my doctor’s office.


So, naturally, I have to call back and tell the receptionist (who now doesn’t seem quiiiite so friendly) that, gosh, I know this is really stupid, but I, uh, kinda…forgot my own phone number…and I know that happens to a lot of people (here I pause waiting to hear reassurance from her but all I get is a “……”)…errrr, so sorry! But here’s my actual phone number. Ha haaa…heh.


And Holy Long Entry, Batman! I don’t know where this came from, y’all

(and also: Mom! Please ignore all those bad words I just used. I do not know what they mean, and I promise I have never used them before this moment. And I’m also certain that me using all these bad words is NOT because you used to take me to bars when I was little, thus exposing me to unsavory influences. Love you!)


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Elizabeth on March 5, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    Some of my friends and I invented something called our “useless mutant power”. I actually have three – to be random, to talk incessantly without breathing and to take pictures of myself. Your ability to remember odd Simpson’s quotes is your useless mutant power. Be proud of it!


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