I wonder how much brain space is wasted on storing things we won’t ever need to remember. Why do certain things stick in our heads even if they haven’t affected us directly at all? (Why do I remember that Jeanie K. had Fruity Pebbles in sixth grade on the same day that she was worried she didn’t use enough hairspray?) Why can I remember things like this but I stare blankly at the bank teller when they ask me what my account number is?
Things that I needed to know in school (at least until I passed the test) didn’t seem to stick in my head the way things I have no reason to remember do. I couldn’t tell you the fifty capitals but I could certainly tell you how I ate my Fruit Roll-Ups in junior high (They all got funerals before being devoured, of course. Duh.)
I’m not talking about events in my life either. Everyone remembers events unless they were intoxicated or were heavy glue sniffers growing up. I wasn’t so much a glue sniffer but I did snort paste (Please do not send me emails on the dangers of paste sniffing as I was not really a paste sniffer, nor am I even sure that it is possible to be one.) I’m talking about this random stuff that no one will ever speak about again. One of my friend’s favorite way to pass time was to point to something in my house and have me tell her where I got it, how much it was and what else I bought (or did) that day. This party trick would cause her to stare, slack-jawed at me like I was a circus freak show act. It didn’t help my case that I, for the most part, could do that with fairly decent accuracy.
I don’t understand why my brain stores away this stuff. Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to click the “trash” icon in our heads and start over? Think of how many arguments that would end due to lack of mental evidence.
What is odd is that I could get my little mental file folder of interactions I’ve had with someone and remember a lot of what was said (Fruity Pebbles) but if you asked me to repeat something I said ten seconds ago, I honestly couldn’t do it.
How does that even work? Sometimes the stuff that I do remember ends up hurting me in the long run because then someone will say something and it doesn’t add up and then my brain decides to step up and say “Hey, remember when he/she said this but…”
I had more to say but I can’t remember. Go figure. Ask me ten years from now and I will be able to tell you what it was I was going to write, what I was wearing, what I had for lunch that day and how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
I think I just figured out how this happens. Maybe my brain was left so empty from all of the stuff I was SUPPOSED to learn over the years that it just started grabbing anything it could get its grubby little fingers around and it didn’t care what knowledge it was as long as it could fill that empty space. Maybe someday all of this seemingly useless knowledge will come together.
One day I’ll be sitting around and suddenly the memory of what I used to carry around in my purse when I was four will come together with how many notes I saw you pass to your boyfriend when we were sophomores and where we ate dinner after our weekly girls only poker game and lo and behold I will use that information in a MacGyver-like way and keep mankind safe from a harmless-looking-but-filled-with-explosives van in the parking lot.
Or maybe not. But for the record, my purse had one Lego person, a rubber band, a piece of Big Red, a gold plastic poodle from a box of Cracker Jacks, two pennies and a grape Scratch and Sniff sticker.
Let’s see you diffuse a ticking time bomb with that, MacGyver.