I know this game!

1 Sep

Memory Game

“The first part of your memory to go,” my mom says, looking over the mug of her coffee one morning while I’m home in Michigan for a few days, “is the part in charge of names.”

She’s telling me this shortly after I witnessed my parents playing a game I’ve mentally dubbed “What Is His Name?”, during which they throw each other prompts to try to come up with the name of someone critical to a story one of them wants to tell.

Sometimes the game can be more like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where they arrive at the person’s name by tracking back through kinfolk, neighbors, teachers and friends. “Remember that kid? He was in Sandy’s class in sixth grade… his mother was married to the brother of the owner of the Independent Dairy… they lived in the house that the Webbers now live in… and you’d see him out every morning walking his dog. What was his name?”

This morning though, it’s a more entertaining version of the game because it takes me to a place where my imagination is fully engaged:

“You remember – what was her name?” my dad began.

“They lived over on Anderson Street,” he continued.

“Oh, I can picture her,” my mom said, nodding like a psychic confirming her hunch.

“She’s the girl I squirted in the mouth with toad juice,” he added.

BOOM. Microphone drop. How often has THAT surfaced as memory-jogging detail in one of YOUR stories? I’m going to guess NEVER. And think of all the possibilities that it evokes. How do you squirt toad juice on someone? What scenario even makes this possible? Was it deliberate or an accident? What IS toad juice?

Regardless, while the part of the brain that’s in charge of names might be off on vacation, clearly the rest of it – responsible for managing all the other details accumulated over a lifetime – is ticking along just fine. If it were me, I’d just make up nicknames on the fly and rename people as I told stories. In this example, the protagonist would’ve been Toad Mouth out of the gate.

Speaking of, I better run. Gotta go see Tea Girl before I greet Eager Early Coworker at my office.

 

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