My son called the other day to remind me that I’m getting old.
No, it wasn’t anything obvious, like “Hi, dad, you’re really an old fart, aren’t you? The conversation went more like this:
“Hey Dad, it’s Rob. How you doin’?
“I’m good. What’s up with you?”
“Listen, I didn’t just call to say hello. I had a favor to ask.”
Uh-oh. Now, in the old days those words would have started my antenna tingling. It usually meant he needed money or wanted to move back in with me for a time. But since he’s middle-aged, has a stable job and makes more money than I ever did, I doubted that was it. Actually, that particular telephone call will probably originate on my end if I tap out on my retirement money.
“A friend of mine has a song running through his head and he can’t remember the name of it. All he’s got is the opening riffs. So I told him I’d call my old Deejay father and hum it to him and he’d come up with it.”
Now it made me proud he had that kind of confidence in me. And old. Okay, okay, it’s true. I started doing radio gigs when we still cued up 45 rpm records by hand (ree-raw, ree, raw) and the turn-tables were kerosene powered. Rob spent his ankle-biter years sacked out on a sleeping bag in the control room of radio stations in small cities while his dad ran the “yawn patrol” morning show.
“Piece of cake.” I lied. After all, what were the chances he could hum it so I could recognize it? Or that the cranny of my brain that regurgitated that kind of information might have an “out to lunch” sign hanging from it.
“Dah, dah, dah, duddah, dah dah dah. Dah, dah, dah, duddah dah, dah, dah.” He hummed.
“Them Changes” I blurted out. “Buddy Miles. Late sixties, early seventies.”
Rob checked it on You-Tube, then whistled. “You’re the best, old man. Thanks. See you soon.” I’m sure the “old man” was meant with affection and not intended to rub it in.
What most amazes me is the capability of my brain to spew stuff like that. I often can’t remember the names of people I’ve met repeatedly, my social security number or whether or not I’m checking a book out of the library I’ve already read. Yet, I can hear the first ten seconds of almost any song I’ve ever played on the radio and name it. Often, I can give you name of the songwriter, the label it appeared on and how far it rose on the charts.
Selective memory, as handy as it may be in avoiding household chores can be scary. What if I find myself parked somewhere in Chehalis and can’t remember why I’m there? Will a time come when people around me will have to try to find diplomatic ways of telling me I’ve forgotten to wear pants? Is there some kind of memory trick I can use to recall peoples names?