Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back Pages

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.


Blogger Paul D. Frazier said...

Marcel Proust began his 7 volume novel "Remembrance of Things Past" when the smell of his breakfast roll triggered his memory to go into overdrive.

Secondly, anyone who can quote the pre-John Wesley Harding Bob Dylan has to be taken seriously.

Thirdly, there comes a time when we remember our sins all too vividly. That is part of the price of commiting those sins. But why can't we remember our joys with the same depth and vividness?

Fourth, think of all the men who cannot remember their children's birthdays or their wife's birthday and they forget their anniversaries. By then it is too late. They have already reproduced.

Fifth, the Post Mistress in Hardin told me I smelled nice yesterday.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Jannie Funster said...

"People are always coming up with these horrible repressed memories, usually when they are suing someone for millions of dollars" Ahh ever the loveable cynic among the wit and wisdom.

Jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule? Is that correct?

And I'm not sure if you had this one here or if it was in Canada only... "Smoking makes his teeth yellow, smoking makes his breath smell-o. He's heard. He's learned. With smoking you get burned." ??

Ahh, those visions of Johanna do get stuck in the olde cells forever.

And all those things Paul D. Frazier said I know to be true. Except the 5th, can't exactly verify that but I do take his word on it.

Oh, I think it's S.O.S. pads now?

11:51 AM  

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