WHY I CAN NEVER REMEMBER ANYTHING
My husband and I take a walk through our neighborhood every day. That’s how we keep ourselves from falling apart.
Yesterday during our walk, I saw that a neighbor had some beautiful orange tulips in bloom. Immediately, my “inner D.J.” (as my sister refers to this mechanism) starting playing “When You Wore a Tulip”. I didn’t just hear one line of the song; I heard the entire song as sung by my mother and father in the car when we were on road trips. I remembered every single lyric, every harmony, and the vaudeville-type ending. Art and I are perfectly suited. You see, he has the same affliction. Carelessly, I began singing, “When you wore a tulip – A big yellow tulip – And I wore a big red rose. . .” Well, then Art was stuck with it.
Moving along, we happened to see someone’s classic 60s Mustang convertible parked on the side of the road. Immediately, the band started up, “Mustang Sally – Guess you better slow-ow-ow your Mustang down”. Once more, every lyric, every horn stab on the original record.
That is, until we walked past a house with a small dog yapping in the window as we walked by. You guessed it (if you’re old enough to remember) – the first song I ever learned as a little girl – Patty Paige’s “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window” (“the one with the wagg-e-ly ta-ai-ail? How much is that doggy in the window [arf-arf] – I do hope that doggy’s for sale!”).
It doesn’t seem to matter how good or even lucid the song is – I tend to record them indelibly in my brain forever and ever. The memory of songs spans decades, outlasts friendships and heartbreaks, and is undisturbed even by tragedies, catastrophes, and major illnesses. At 54, I can still remember songs I learned on my mother’s knee at the age of three. (“Three little fishies in the itty-bitty pool. . .”). If not in their entirety, certainly in essence. (“ . . .’Swim said the mama fishy, swim if you can’, and they swam, swam, swam all over the dam!”). See what I mean?
I’ve got countless other ones. Most of them vintage 50s and 60s songs that were burned into my psyche forever. To my horror, whenever the news anchors start talking about Arab-Israeli relations, my inner D.J. spins the very un-p.c., “Ahab the A-rab”. When I walk past an open ladder I hear, “James! James! Hold the ladder steady . . .” When it rains I hear, “I’m singin’ in the rain, just singin in the rain . . .” When the sun comes out I hear, “Here comes the sun (doo-ba-doo-ba) – Here comes the sun, and I say – It’s alright . . .” When I hear, “It’s alright”, I think, “Don’t think twice, it’s alright”. And so it goes until the needle gets stuck on one song and that can last for days on end!
So – Don’t ask me about the capitol of Montana. Don’t ask me the date of the Louisiana Purchase. Because, “ . . .Who knows where or when?”
© 2005, Robin Munson