Weird, The Stuff One Remembers

I remember my first yogurt. I had no idea what the stuff was, and this was back in those long lost ages when things like yogurt had no advertising campaigns. These days we don’t think twice about a toilet paper advertising that it is superior because it leaves less lint where no one’s really going to be doing a white glove inspection anyway…

Well, okay, most of us will not be getting white glove inspections there. But if that’s your thing please know I meant no offense. Ain’t nobody’s bidness but yo’ own.

So there was the yogurt on the shelf at the supermarket. As super a market as we had in those days. I’d never even heard of the stuff before, being all of maybe six or seven years old, and I thought I might like to give it a try. It was on sale for cheap so in an extraordinarily bold move I asked Mommie Dearest if she would buy me some yogurt. It was, too, extraordinarily bold, daring to ask for anything at all in a store of any kind. The Princess, my sister, two years younger, piped up that she would like some yogurt, too, unintentionally rescuing me. Mommie Dearest said, “You won’t like it. It’s not ice cream”. (What, you forgot I could read?) I said that I thought I would like to try the stuff, and The Princess said the same, so I was warned that if she bought it I had damned well better eat all of it. Threat received and understood, when we got home I had my yogurt and decided that I liked it just fine and would prefer it to ice cream most of the time. And I still do prefer it to ice cream most of the time.

That’s a really odd thing to remember so vividly. Trivial, but there it is.

The first peak I ever bagged was 11,408′ Mount Pennell in the Henry Mountains of Utah. I remember the peak itself very vaguely and the view not at all, but the rabbit manure I encountered on the way up is crystal clear in my memory. I was somewhere around six or seven years old and had no experience with rabbits or their manure, so it was quite the discovery for me. These days I can wander the woods and know what kinds of critters are about by their scat and/or the tracks they leave. Who knew turds could be so interesting?

It really is important to know about scat when you’re out knocking around in remote wilderness. The closer you are to the preferred locale of a bear’s broader range, the more of the bear’s feces you’ll encounter. It’d be silly to get all worked up if the scat you’re seeing is coyote instead, and downright stupid to not notice recent bear cub poop.

It’s funny, but I don’t have any memory of my first pecking kiss from a girl I wasn’t related to. When the topic comes up in a movie everyone remembers their first such kiss. Usually with braces involved, it seems, and usually with someone who turned out in some way icky or weird. I suspect it was probably the girl next door, Beverly, but it might have been Roxanne one street over, or Joyce from the next neighborhood west, or Wendy from three streets over… being the only boy around who didn’t have an aversion to girls I got plenty of attention. But it was probably Beverly, as we walked to and from first grade every day holding hands and I got teased by the boys a lot. “Ooh, is Beverly your girlfriend?”. They drew out the last syllable of her name, errrrllllleeeeeee, and said girlfriend as if it was some kind of bad thing. I didn’t understand the meaning of the term. Girl, obviously, friend, yeah, what’s yer point? Of course I got the “sitting in a tree” rhyme hurled at me a lot, so I figured those guys for jerks and went and hung out with the girls. It became a habit, hanging out with girls. 😀

I do remember the first french kiss, though. It scared holy hell out of me. I came away thinking it a terrible waste of exceptional natural talent that she wasn’t a lesbian. Gawd, warn a guy before you poke him in the throat with your tongue! We hetero males don’t practice suppressing our gag reflexes. It was about as much fun as tracheal intubation.

I know precisely where I was, give or take a foot or two, at the start of the Unix epoch — 12:00:00AM Greenwich Mean Time on January 1, 1970.

My second grade teacher’s son’s name was David. I only heard it once and don’t remember why, and never met or even saw a photo of him.

In 1982, the combination to one of the crew lockers in a shop I didn’t work at the missile warning radar where I was stationed in the Air Force was 1-0-6-6. I only heard it once, and I never knew where on the third floor their lockers were anyway.

I still know the number of my first driver’s license, but only the first two digits of the license that’s been in my wallet for 20 years.

I had my first tomato sandwich in July of 1974.

All of this perfectly trivial, absolutely worthless stuff is indelibly stuck in my head. The important stuff like the event of the first kiss and who was involved is nowhere to be found. The view from that first peak was probably grand, but all I’ve got is rabbit manure. First yogurt I recall, first filet mignon I don’t. I can’t recall the name of the girl who regularly makes for us the best damned hamburgers you’ll find within a hundred miles, but my second grade teacher’s son’s name I’ve got. And so on.

With no intention of offending anyone: Intelligent design, my ass! When I’m writing software that needs to keep ephemeral data around for just long enough to get a thing done, it goes into memory and is sacrificed to the tron gods as soon as I’m done with it. This space used to hold an intermediate result in a lengthy calculation, but now it’s got a funny picture that was attached to an email. Data I need to keep around for longer but not forever goes to a space on disk that’s periodically wiped clean of stuff that’s more than just so old. Things that should be around more or less forever go to a more or less permanent location on disk. That’s intelligent design. The first kiss should be on disk, on local network backup, in remote backup, and burned to an optical disk that’s placed into the safety deposit box in the fireproof, burglar proof, thermo-fucking-nuclear weapon proof vault at the bank. But nooooo…. Instead I’ve got the combination to a lock I never even saw and that surely rusted away years ago, and it was just something I overheard from a conversation I was not paying attention to.

I’m hoping it was Beverly, even though she did once forcefully and intentionally bash me in the head with a basketball wrapped in burlap that was standing in for a long dead tetherball. The story is better if the first kiss came from the girl who also delivered the first unprovoked skull bashing.


3 thoughts on “Weird, The Stuff One Remembers

  1. promisesunshine

    yep. i’ve got a wealth of trivial data (mostly from the 80’s because the brain power went nosedive into oblivion after that). i have my childhood phone number ingrained (my p’s moved decades ago, so it’s not that), but my current cell phone is a mystery most of the time. i can sing along with favorite songs, but damned if i can remember the word i need to use in conversation. i do remember my first kiss, because it was not. 😉 then again, i also remember my most recent kiss too. 🙂

  2. ordinarybutloud

    I have a really terrible memory. I get it from my mother. I can remember facts, things I’ve learned, but events from my past are gone. It is not infrequent for me to see a photo of myself and be utterly amazed and/or aghast that I was at that place at that time in the company of those people. Often I don’t believe it, though people present me with all kinds of supporting evidence.


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