What is in our mind when we remember something from our distant past? Do you recall your memories in the same way that I recall my own? I’d like to think not, only because I’m of the notion that the way I recall my own experiences illuminate me as a cuckoo without the properly prescribed medications.
I’m referring to those kinds of memories where you know that those events occurred, but looking back it seems profoundly absurd that you would ever have gotten yourself into (much less out of) those situations. I suppose that’s how someone you know might end up in jail, then speaking with your friends you would all concur that yes indeed, no one saw that coming. Relating to the outside world is always a daunting task. Outside of repeated daily tasks there really is no telling what someone might do. Here’s a tasty illustration, with some contextual information.
I was never very good in school. If I had been born thirty years later I probably would have been labeled ADD and possibly medicated for it. Happily for me, I was simply labeled overly energetic, prone to distraction, restless. Fine – many’s the time I was reminded to “buckle down”, or to “focus on my studies” and in defense of these academic prompts, they worked. I enjoyed reading and I was always very good at spelling. The one subject that I struggled with was math.
So I climbed and clamored through the grades via age-related ascension, just as most of my classmates did. It was during this time period, in middle school, I discovered how wonky human relations are. Looking back I can recall some very crazy behavior being exhibited by my peers. This was the time when you were first released to your own devices. You had a locker and you had a little extra time to get to where you were going. The adults no longer accompanied you everywhere- you were given a little more responsibility, a little more rope to hang yourself with.
Some kiddies took to this fresh freedom very well, while others got into completely absurd situations because they had no knack for self-navigation. In those terms I was always right down the middle. I found it very easy to stay out of trouble by remaining less crazy than the crazies. Let them take the heat. After all, it was easy to see that the teachers and administrators had only so much time and patience, so as long as it wasn’t me getting their attention I could skate along. So, I skated along – except for math.
Here’s the point of all this. Looking back, it seems unfathomable that I survived any of it. My memories of school appear now as if I successfully escaped a lunatic asylum. How anyone learned anything in that bughouse I will never know. So, here’s a memory I know to be true that will illustrate my point. Perhaps you have a similar experience – but I doubt it.
I was in high school, probably a junior. I had flunked algebra, so I was required to take it again during the summer. By some odd turn of events I ended up bumming a ride every day from a senior that I only knew as one of my sister’s friends. His name was Tom.
On the first day of summer school Tom pulls into the driveway and I hop in. I barely know this guy, but he’s cool – in fact he’s really cool. He had a manual transmission in his car and good thing too. The brakes were substandard and likely to fail on him at any given time. Since Tom had no money for proper automotive maintenance he became quite skilled at downshifting and predicting traffic patterns, always looking ahead at the lights while keeping plenty of distance between his front bumper and anyone’s back bumper.
We hadn’t even gotten past the second stop sign on my road when he sparked up and passed my the doob. Proper etiquette during the seventies was to accept this offering with good grace, even if it seemed unusual to get high first thing in the morning- which it did to me. So here I am, cruising down the road in a poorly maintained vehicle with a guy I barely know on a gorgeous summer day, both of us on our way to a remedial math class. Every summer school day from then on went the same way. He pulls in, I hop in. He turns up the music (Deep Purple’s Fireball album) and we get buzzed with our elbows tanning in the summer sun; then properly baked, we enter the classroom for a two hour drone-fest.
I have no idea how I passed that class, but I did. Do I remember the math? Nope. But I will say, Fireball is still one of my favorite records.
So- is that a weird memory? I sure like to think so. ~TH~