Bird Shit Butterfly Gone but Memory Lingers On


Linguistic researchers from the University of Tubingen in Germany find that the so-called “aging deficits” in recall disappear once the enormous data overage the over age sift and winnow compared to the paltry smatterings of the young are factored into retrieval time, the time it takes to come up with the name of the guy who played Ernest Borgnine’s buddy Angie in “Marty.” Joe Mantell. This means that a 20 year-old has full access to very little, while a mature individual has little access to a great deal. It’s a trade-off. Still, what goes around comes around; by 2057 the median millennial’s data will be stymied in gridlocked neural traffic with, and like, everybody’s else’s. We’re talking a lag of several to several-more milliseconds trying to recall the name of Justin and Miley’s oldest who looked like him, sang like her, and ended up selling compilations on cable.
Memory loss phobia has moved a huge amount of otherwise useless Japanese knotweed reimagined as Resveratrol, promoted omega-3 from just another fatty acid, and made Dr. Oz the Schweitzer of a not-so-brave new world of Nuvigil, Cebria, Profiderall, and your entire class of nootropic cognitive enhancers. It’s a memory pandemic. Next to whatchamacallit, memory is now number one on older American’s hit parade of worries all but negating the full and rewarding sex life promised in their 70’s. None of this would be a problem at all could we pick which memories to toss and which to cling to, you know, in case this sex thing doesn’t pan out, and be able to reassign the computing powere to a socially useful task like coming up with a name for the tartan-clad Divine Savior girl who unwound like a mainspring before running out the door of her own house in Wauwatosa sometime in 1966. I’m thinking she’s probably wound up pretty good again by now.
There are many kinds of people, but just two kinds of memory: short-term, or fluid, when you know where you’re going instead of merely finding yourself on your route, and long-term or crystallized: mom telling you to eat a piece of fruit or take a plate so there won’t be crumbs, and not to walk with your head to the side–no, wait, that was Howard. Dad illustrating, via thumb and forefinger, how they are just this far apart, whatever they are are, or were. While there is no substitute for a cultural heritage you can inflict on your offspring, many if not all of these upbringing remnants could be frozen until a cure is found for whatever behaviors they were intended to abate.

Still and all, it’s funny about what you do remember–what you can’t forget: locker numbers–16-42-1 …38-37-17…27-5-35; a Milwaukee Public Library card 55-19412C (55 the year I got it–C that I lost it twice); Pictures at An Exhibition, chicks hatching right through the Great Gate of Kiev; memorizing Marsha Manion’s freckles as her dad, ironically, helped us memorize state capitols; my dad asleep in his easy chair with an entire Kent’s worth of ash drooping from its micronite filter; the Milwaukee Braves radio song “Milwaukee’s the home of the battling Braves… brought to you by these famous names: duel filter Tareyton, Miller–High Life! (repeat), and Clark Super 100 gasoline; Percy Dovetonsils reading poetry submerged in a tank of water, mom having painted the tiles of our bedroom floor with unforgiving red model dope while dad and us boys were up in Lac du Flambeau; the driver’s right high beam on our 61 Impala illuminating the treetops on the way home from that same Lac du Flambeau after 12 year old Michael drove the car very nearly all the way through the woods; the bird shit butterfly captured by Arthur after a dropping doppelganger miraculously flew off a fender of 55 Pontiac at Uptown Motors; and, always and forever, the so-pretty girl on the train I dared not even look at full-on who smiled and gave me a little wave after disembarking with her family in Omaha during one of our epic Zephyrs to California before mom learned how to fly–all of it hard-wired for the long-term.

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