Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps Bob Dylan, “My Back Pages”
Rayda foisted some kind of tea on me at breakfast this morning. The whiff of which recalled a strong spearmint. My mind clicked immediately to a song from my childhood, unrecalled for many years.
“Look for the Spear and get chewing enjoyment
With the biggest little treat in all the land.”
This was a commercial jingle for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum run on television in my youth. How long had it been trapped up there in my long term memory, ready to spring out when given the correct stimulus ? Long term memory is a weird thing. I can be watching a movie that I forgot that I saw last year and suddenly be hit with the fact “hey, I’ve seen this before.” Why does it take so long for me to recognize the movie when I can turn on another movie that I have not seen in thirty years and recall exact lines from it ? The difference is long term and short term memory. I know almost nothing about the difference in the two, but I do understand that they are totally different things.
Why would I remember a chewing gum jingle ? I never chewed Wrigley Spearmint (I liked Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit). I did not like the song, I thought that is was stupid. Yet there it is, stuck in my mind, taking up brain cells that could be used for something valuable, like my mother’s birthday which I have to be reminded of each year. Despite the so called “Childhood Amnesia”, I can recall many events which took place when I was two years old. Yet I can never remember where I left my wallet (boy does that sound like an Andy Rooney line).I read once that long term memory has some connection with the importance of an event. Was the Brillo Pad commercial they used to show every day in 1955 really that important to me ?
Now the pot was callin’ the kettle black
And the kettle was ashamed to answer back
Then the kettle got shined with a Brillo Pad,
Now it’s the Pot that’s feelin’ bad.
That is a very happy memory for me from when I was two and three years old. Why ? By the way, do they still make Brillo Pads ? I guess that with the coatings that we put on pans these days that the steel wool pad has a limited utility. But back to the “why”. Maybe childhood is just a happier time and you remember being happy. It would make sense that all memories are determined by the importance of the live impact on you, of which memory is the living trace. But what about Wrigley Spearmint ? That has to be one of the least important things that ever happened in my life.
I do know that we all have a limited capacity for memory. There are only so many brain cells. A number of my brain cells went up in smoke, circa 1972 if you know what I mean. I wonder what was on those cells and how the Spearmint song managed to escape, along with Whitey Ford’s pitching record from 1961 and John Phillip’s phone number. Then again, maybe I’m better off without the memories I have lost. They say that you forget pain. People are always coming up with these horrible repressed memories, usually when they are suing someone for millions of dollars. Maybe my memories are not so much gone as repressed, to be called forth at a strategically advantageous time. Like when I need to find my wallet.