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Hey, do you remember that time...?

May 27, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE ( , Times-Republican

Most humans' brains are Swiss army knives ? filled with diverse, useful tools to help with everyday life. Conversely, mine is an Etch A Sketch ? able to do a single thing poorly and any information written on it easily erasable.

It's cruel irony that I can't recall when my memory went bad. Many people have memories from when they were younger than five years old, though often this is due to some kind of horrible childhood event as opposed to, say, winning a Nobel Prize. It's just like my parents to be inconsiderate like that and not traumatize me as a toddler. My question is this: what don't they want me to remember? What are they hiding? Maybe I DID win a Nobel Prize at five and they're keeping it a secret so I don't get a big head and remain this incredibly sexy, humble person everyone knows and adores.

I've tried to improve this liability for years. I read online that people who live dangerous lives tend to have better memories. I tell my wife this.

"I think I'd remember my days more if you were more exciting," I say, sadly.

"WHAT?" she replies in a very boring, unmemorable way. I suppose this isn't a normal way to wake someone up from a nap, but she'll probably remember this conversation because of it. But do I get a "thank you, Sir?" Oh heavens no.

"I just think I'd remember things better if you dressed in a spandex jumpsuit, shot people and collected treasure."

She just stared at me.

"Or if you did some other random things like steal a duck."

"Steal a duck."

"Yeah, and then I can look back and say 'You remember that day when you stole that duck?' That was stupid.' I'd remember that day."

"I'm not stealing a duck."

"It doesn't have to be a duck. You could steal a backhoe. Or get rabies. I don't care."

"What? How would I get rabies?!"

"How should I know? You're the weirdo that steals ducks. Who knows what other animals you steal. It honestly wouldn't surprise me to learn you have a walrus somewhere in the house."

"I'm done with this conversation."

So while I don't think I affected change in her behavior on that day I DID get her to say, "I'm not stealing a duck." A small victory.

At this point in my life I'm surprised I venture outdoors without a note pinned to my shirt that reads, "I'm lost. If you're reading this please contact my wife who will come and fetch me." Of course, the note wouldn't list a phone number because I have no idea what my wife's number is anymore, assuming I ever did.

I have a book, the purpose of which is to provide snippets of information on a wide variety of topics, presumably so you're informed and can add remarkable insight during cocktail parties. I've read it. Twice. I can't tell you any of the details on any of the topics. I'm also having a hard time coming with any of the topics. Come to think of it, I can't even remember the name of the book. However, I'm pretty sure the book had something to do with cocktails? Isn't that something I mentioned earlier in this paragraph? So I made myself one or seven to try and jog my memory. It hasn't helped in that department but presently I'm feeling pretty OK with it.

I'm especially horrible when attempting to remember names. This is typically what happens when someone introduces themselves for the first or fortieth time.

Person: "Hi, I'm."

Brain: "HEY! Remember that time in elementary school you kind of paid that girl to be your girlfriend? Sixpence! HEY! Shake hands really hard to prove your manliness! Lantern! Oh, nice, you didn't reach out far enough and he shook your fingers like you're some kind of lass. Who thinks the word 'lass' anyway? Tacos for dinner! A pneumonic device would certainly come in handy right now. Let's think of one! Wait, where did we look when we shook hands? You didn't look at his crotch, did you?! Why is he staring?! Let's think about absolutely nothing now! Use words! Frijole is a word!"

The only way I can seem to remember a name is if I'm golfing with the person and they yell at themselves after a poor shot. So I spend the entire round sending negative thought waves at them, though I should probably stop putting my hands to my temples and starting at them until my head turns purple as if passing a kidney stone the size of platypus. This seemingly has little effect other than to cause me to come off as creepy.

It'd just be easier if they had a unique, memorable name, but I've found it's a considerable chore trying to convince people to change their names for my benefit. For one thing, I'm always forced to hang around a judge who comically says he doesn't have the power to just grant people new names.

Me: "This is the Honorable Judgewaitwhat did you say your name was?"

Judge: "Judge..."

Brain: "Harpsichord!"

Me: "I'm sorry, what was that?"

Brain: "We should learn to make moccasins!"

Me: "We'll say Judge Smoodgie. I've petitioned Smoodgie here to have your name legally changed to Captain Butterbeard, because you have a full, rich beard that looks like butter and a name like that would be easily remembered. You're welcome."

I had so much more to say about this, but I can't remember what it was. I'm sure we can all agree it was one-half informative, one-half hilarious and one-half sexy, though. Luckily I'm way better at math than I am at memory.


Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or viahmmm.some other way. What was it again? We can't remember what it is. Maybe it was via coded newspaper message? Wait, what are we doing again? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?!



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