Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Your Memory is a Liar

I'm the youngest in a family of three kids with a significant age gap separating me from both my brother and sister. Back in the 80s, while my sister was watching MTV and refusing to clean her room to the point that our dad took her door off its hinges, I was watching the Smurfs. While my brother was crashing cars and setting fires in the mangroves down the street from our house, I was playing with My Little Pony and Barbie. (To be fair, he only set one fire and it was a total accident that got out of hand.) Being the baby, I got a lot of crap from my older siblings (still do) about being spoiled and doing things for attention, which I whole-heartedly deny. Not about being spoiled. We were all spoiled and they know it, but the thing about getting attention? No. Sure, I enjoyed being the center of attention from time to time within the confines of our house among family, but I would never make things up to achieve it. (Skunky doesn't count as a lie - imaginary friends are off the table.)

I've always had vivid dreams and the overwhelming desire to tell people about them (forgive me), so my family members have spent years hearing about them in all their nonsensical glory. To this day, if someone doesn't quite believe what I'm saying they'll say, "Maybe it was a dream," which has always had the power to irk me. It's true that my dreams have been known to trick me into thinking something that didn't actually happen did, and the men in my life have been subjected to the repercussions in real life of something they did in my dreams, but it's not (all) my fault. I can't help that what happens in my dream affects me so strongly, and usually whatever they did in my dream was something they really would do in real life, so maybe they should just be nicer.

My point? Sometimes we lie and we really don't mean to. It happens all the time.

In the middle of writing a different blog post, in fact, the one preceding this, I found myself reminiscing about singing in my childhood years, which led to memories of my mother singing when I was a kid, which then led all kinds of interesting tidbits I've kept safely tucked away in the recesses of my brain. When I ran into a snag, wherein my memory didn't exactly align with what Google said about a group of which my mom used to be a part, I called her to help straighten me and my memories out. We've just hung up and my stomach hurts a little from all the laughing - those phone calls are the best.

First, let me share my memories about my mom's singing career when I was a child:

My mom was a rock star. When I was young, let's say single digit years but over 4, my mom was a member of Sweet Adelines, an a cappella singing group who performed for real life audiences on the church circuit. They traveled around and put on shows, so sometimes she was out of town on tour (like the time I busted my head open on the door latch plate and was awarded one stitch at the emergency room for all the agony). They wore shiny blue costumes with sequins and there was a great, big, tall, muscular man with red hair and a mustache who traveled with them as part of the act, performing lifts in the dance numbers they did on stage to accompany the songs they sang. I pictured the women running across the stage into the red-headed man's great big arms and being lifted into the air, their poodle-like skirts flying.

When I asked my mom about this time in her life, laughter ensued. There were moments no one could actually speak real words because of it.

My mom's memories about the same time:

My mom has always loved to sing. When I was young, let's say between 5 and 7, my mom was a member of the local chapter of Sweet Adelines, an all women a cappella group who sang from time to time in the area, having no religious affiliation (thought they did practice at a local Methodist church). She doesn't remember any over night trips with the group, but they did compete and WIN at the regional competition one year. They wore shiny blue, satiny costumes with sequins and the group of women was so big (about 50) they filled a set of bleachers on the stage to sing. There was no man with red hair and a mustache, though now my dad is starting to wonder. There were also no poodle skirts. Or dancing. She said the closest they came to dancing was a little swaying, but that was it.

To my credit, my mom was also a part of a singing ensemble at our church that had both women and men around the same time in my life, so I'm thinking this is where the man with red hair and mustache came from, as well as the church connection. Either way, comparing memories can be kind of hilarious and I encourage you to try it.

And I really did split my head open on the door latch enough to warrant a single stitch, we all remember that, and my mom was out of town, though nobody can remember where she was.

One of these days I'm going to figure out who that man with the red hair and mustache is.


  1. I started laughing out loud as you were giving your mom's memory of the time! I can totally see why your stomach was hurting from laughing, 'cause that's hilarious!! I'd love to know where the red headed man with a mustache came from. The way you described him, I'm visualizing a red-headed Paul Bunyan...look at me recreating your memories with visuals of my own! haha It really is a ton of fun comparing memories. When I was writing my post about running over my brother, I was calling both of my bros and we were laughing as we had different memories of that same event. Crazy how our minds work.

  2. Haha, we have the same kind of issues with my family! I have the "unreliable" memory in the fam because of my "vivid imagination" and "active dream life" but there are some things that I KNOW happened. I just can't prove it...