Memory is so weird
I was jawboning with two of my clients today, and the senior asked the junior if she ever had to learn typing. This question was clearly hilarious to her, like she’d been asked if she’d learned how to churn butter as a child.
If you’re over 45 typing was standard high school curricula, if you’re under 30 you may seriously not know what a typewriter is. Victrola’s beget turntables begetting CD players begetting MP3’s. But this isn’t about the impermanence of technologies.
No, this is about a memory this triggered, which in turn triggered related, but forgotten memories. Nothing earth shattering, just an example of how oddly like an overstuffed closet memory is, pull one thing out only to find it wrapped around another.
The First Memory
The thing I remembered was a “hot” memory, one I pull out from time to time because its funny. It was our typing final in High School at the end of my junior year. Typing happened to be the first class of the day, which I seem to recall was 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, hellish for any teenager. My friend from the wrestling team, Paul R. (I’ll conceal identities in case this type of thing would prove unwelcome), soon to be graduating and more focused on end of high school bacchanal than typing grades, had been partying. He mumbled something about a consuming a spiked watermelon in the parking lot as he slumped into the workstation next to me. He was annihilated, and the booze was still taking hold. I said something like “you think this is a good idea?” figuring he might still be able to bail under some pretext. Paul was a confident young man, he sat tall in his chair summoning all the focus he could muster like any good athlete waiting on the starting gun. The teacher gave the go signal, and while I did my best to focus on my own test (which I actually wanted to pass), I couldn’t help but notice Paul in my peripheral vision, hunched over the keyboard ferociously hammering away, like Indiana Jones running away from a boulder. The teacher called time, Paul leaned back in his chair with a satisfied grin on his yap, which slowly faded as he realized he’d never hit the carriage return…leaving him with a single line of type. Ha! That still cracks me up.
This is a memory I can pull up on demand, it’s super vivid. But as I thought about this today, long forgotten context memory started flooding back. Paul and I were on the wrestling team, him because he was a champion wrestler, me because my football coach thought it would be good for me. If merit was the deciding factor, I never would have made the team, I was there due to the fact that almost no teams in VA fielded wrestlers in the Unlimited weight class. This detail meant that on many occasions me showing up gave our team the points associated with a forfeit and on a couple of occasions this actually won the match for us.
That’s just background for why Paul R. and I would ever know each other, he was far more of an upstanding citizen, active in school politics, lots of extracurricular activities – basically a B.M.O.C. type. I was an artist (and fulfilled all the moody stereotypes you’d expect from a teen artist), football player, power-lifter and introvert. But I was raised in a military family, which means I’m great at picking up new friends – because a formal part of your development is losing all your friends each time you move. This was the type of friendly relationship I had with Paul – we were basically two nice guys and no reason not to be nice to nice people.
The Final Nested Doll
Anyway, the memory this all dredged up was for some reason Paul asked me to work the door/security for a political fundraiser his mother was hosting for a senator. I have almost no memory of the event, but distinctly remember being at Paul’s house afterward chatting with his mom and the senator about the Camp David accords which had been signed recently. This is a patently bizarre moment, because the conversation was essentially me (teenage boy) being nihilistic about the pointlessness of such a political gesture given the depth of the historical shenanigans of the region. And that these two adults, one of whom actually worked on the accords, not simply howling with laughter at my arrogance. I think they’s both been boozing, might have extended their patience. But the final memory this brought up was this wonderful expression on Mrs. R.’s face, she was a beautiful woman and in that moment of kind indulgence she radiated a kind of pure womanly energy that stuck with me.
Wait, more memories. Paul and his brother worked at the Sheraton with my sisters…there’s more to all this, and if I can remember it, you’ll be the first to know!