I am not a big sports fan. I can't quote stats and say who the Super Bowl MVP was in 1993. Except for the one year I was in a fantasy football league and could sit in a bar and say, "Freaking Aikman throws more interceptions than touchdowns, he's killing me. Carney gets four field goals and I still lose." Outbursts like that would make my friends turn and say, "Who the hell are you and what have you done with Al?" And usually adding, "Not that we want him back -- it would be nice to talk to a guy who knows more than who played Scarlett O'Hara's little sister in "Gone With the Wind." (Ann Rutherford)
This does not mean I don't like sports, I'm a Yankees fan for baseball and a Giants fan for football. It doesn't mean I never played them -- in high school I threw shot put and discus and played freshman football. It was that one year of football that made me stay away from team sports and do more individual ones, like track.
Football practice meant triple sessions (one in the morning, two in the afternoon). It was hot; I was fat and exhausted. The freshman did not practice with the varsity team -- we were banished to the dust bowl behind the bleachers where crushed beer cans and broken bottles wandered off to die. After one of these sessions, my friend Harry and I were the walking wounded as we headed back to the field house. At one point we both just sat down on the ground to catch our breath. Apparently, that action was frowned upon by some of the varsity players who stood watch near the parking lot.
"Hey," a voice boomed. We could see one of them as he moved towards us, anger apparent on his face, "You assholes get up! You don't sit down -- get up!"
With a reddened face he now stood above us -- I barely had the energy to look up at him, sweat and sunlight in my eyes. Harry, who was not a small guy, pushed himself off the ground, raised his right index finger level with the player's nose and said, in a very calm and chilling voice, "F*ck you" then sat back down.
It was my favorite high school football memory and it wasn't even mine.
Sometimes my lack of sports knowledge leaves me in an awkward position at parties or bars. I'm very much out in the cold when it comes to hockey, so when my friends start talking about the Rangers or the Devils or the lockout (is that still a thing?) I have nothing to say. Fortunately for me I recently and inadvertently stumbled one day upon the one phrase that I can use in any sports situation.
I had dated a woman for a while who liked to travel -- I do not like to travel which was one of the many reason we are no longer together. Without fail,though, when she returned from a trip, I would get a t-shirt (along with other gifts) bearing the name of the city she had just visited.
One day, at a party at my friend Tammy's house, I was wearing a t-shirt that read "Boston". Almost immediately one of her friends shouted, "Red Sox suck!" at me from across the room. I tried to explain that I wasn't wearing a Boston Red Sox shirt, but just a shirt that represented the city of Boston.
"They suck," he said. Then turned and walked away.
A few months later I was at another party at Tammy's when the same man who had informed me without invitation that the "Red Sox suck" called out to me.
"Hey, you're the Red Sox fan, right?"
Before I could say anything about my shirt just being a shirt he added, "How about that game last night?"
I had no idea what sport he alluded to, let alone what game he was talking about. I had no real answer for him so I said:
"I know, right?"
He looked at me for a second, then nodded, smiled, and walked away. It was like he was saying, "Yeah, you get it, you know what you're talking about."
It was my greatest sports moment. I was one of the guys.
It wasn't until later that I realized this magic phrase was not just confined to sports. It would work anywhere.
"I couldn't believe that presidential debate last night."
"I know, right?"
"It amazing that Pope Boniface II was the first German Pope and yet he wasn't born in Germany."
"I know, right?"
"It's fascinating that wave-particle duality states that particles display both wave and particle properties, and that a central concept of quantum mechanics addresses the inability of classical concepts like particle and wave to fully describe the behavior of quantum-scale objects."
"I know, right?"
You get the idea.
So one day if you find yourself in a conversation with me, and I don't seem to be attentive and keep giving the same answer over and over again, its not that I don't want to talk to you.
It's just that I don't know what the f*ck you're talking about.
People often tell me the day they were born to test my memory, and after telling them the day of the week, I love to turn the tables and ask them about their 21st birthday. The context of a memory helps fill in details that may, at first, be a little hazy. When you recall the day of the week an event took place, everything else starts to make more sense. Even though my mind has automatically stored that my 21st birthday was on a Friday, yours doesn't have to. Find the day of the week of your 21st birthday by Googling the date. Just knowing how long you had to wait for a weekend or how quickly you were back at school or work after your night of partying will help unlock details that you didn't remember were in there.
Music is one of the easiest ways to remember something. It can put us back in a physical or mental space faster than almost any other trigger. Furthermore, any song you can call your favorite is probably loaded with memories. Maybe your first listen jumps right into your head, but if it doesn't, find the song on YouTube and let yourself be transported back to the first time that song graced your soon-to-be in love ears (or your soon-to-be-dancing feet!)
Weddings are usually memorable occasions in our lives, and they appeal to our love of linear thinking. It starts with getting ready, followed by the ceremony, the reception, and then, perhaps, the after party. I call this horizontal memory because it moves along a swath of horizontal time and sequences events in an easy-to-visualize timeline. However, we can also remember a wedding in a vertical manner, unlocking more information as we go deeper and deeper into one particular moment. The more you think about actually being there, the more information will come to you. You might also get a lot out of remembering in a mushrooming way, where the wedding opens you up to a whole sea of connected memories, including those that occurred months later and months before. Both this method and the final one, sporadic remembering (completely non-connected events that spring to mind), are more free associative than horizontal or vertical thinking, but they can be especially useful for seeing the big picture of a certain time in your life.
I know from teaching memory classes for years that everyone has a dominant sense that helps you record, retain, and retrieve memories. Which one is yours? Sight, sound, touch, taste or smell? When trying to recall a first date with someone, play to your strengths and use your dominant sense to trigger the memories of that date. (How did they look, what did they say, how did they feel, what did you eat, or how did they smell?) By activating your dominant sense, you may not only be able to bask in the glow of a long forgotten moment, you may also be able to look at it under a harsh light that will help you notice a red flag you should have seen the first time around.
One thing that amazes people, even more than my ability to recall dates and events, is how many phone numbers I hold in my mind. This is especially freaky when I haven't seen somebody for a decade or two. There are many techniques out there for remembering strings of numbers, but here's how I do it, and I think it's the most personal method out there. Each one of us automatically knows several combinations of numbers that we can relate to at a glance (a birthday, anniversary, etc). When you have a phone number to remember, break it into two-, three-, or four-digit pieces that are already significant to you, and it'll be much easier. You don't need to make up images to remember the number, because it is all coming from things you already know.
This one you obviously remember, otherwise you wouldn't think of it as your favorite day. But how well do you remember it? Really dive into the details of what made this day so special? Was it the people? Some activity you love to do? What you were wearing, reading or even eating? Whatever gets you back there most vividly is probably something I call your primary memory Track - the lens through which you can most easily access your past (e.g. travel, sports, clothing, relationships, etc.) Everyone has something they remember especially well, and knowing your Track will help take you back!
People often say to me, "No way can I remember a few years ago. I can't even remember what I ate for dinner last week!" Using the suggestions from panels 1-6, prompt your memory by applying them to last Sunday's dinner. Use the date, music, the four types of memory retrieval, your dominant sense, a significant number and your primary memory Track to get the ball rolling on what you did and, eventually, what you ate last Sunday. If you still cannot remember, try paying attention this Sunday, so that next week at this time, you will remember! Memory takes practice, and like anything else, practice makes perfect!
Follow Al DeLuise on Twitter: www.twitter.com/conflictscotch