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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Absentminded Whatever It Is

At college one day, I went to class after putting a meal in the oven and completely forgetting about it just a few minutes later. Never mind that I was a) making a meal, and never mind that I was b) hungry enough to make the meal, and c) I devoted several brain cells to getting it out of the freezer, taking it out of the packaging (I hope), and then sticking it in the oven. It's the thought that counts, right? If you simply plan for food, your stomach will give you points for good intentions. It didn't even occur to me at any point that I had forgotten about what I put in the oven until I came back to my apartment a couple hours later and my roommates told me they had semi-rescued it, meaning that it didn't set the building on fire.

I'd like to think that it was because I was such a dedicated student that I was excited about going to class and couldn't think of anything else. But alas, sometimes being focused is no more than a cover-up for totally spacing it.

Or I've had times where I've been more dedicated, but it still didn't help. How many of us have put something in the oven, and then realized 45 minutes later that it doesn't cook nearly as well with the oven off?

I know there must be a place in the deep recesses of my mind which will someday bring a sudden realization eight years after the fact that I forgot to do something important. Like maybe a video I rented is 7000 days overdue. Oh yeah, I'm supposed to return Ishtar — that's it. No wonder they garnished my wages back then... Maybe I ought to watch it again before I return it, though.

Whenever I go on a trip, as the time to leave approaches, I know there’s something I’m forgetting. It's not a question of whether I forgot something or not, but just a matter of identifying exactly which things it was that I did in fact forget. In response to that, I've now started overpacking with things I don't think I'll need, so that it will reduce the odds that whatever it was I forgot may accidentally get packed.

Packing to go somewhere is bad enough, but at least they're isolated blips in life's journey. General everyday living, on the other hand, can put you in a nondescript tizzy. I know there's something I'm forgetting, but what is it? Did I forget to pay for the Tic Tac's I bought at the 7-11 in Barstow, California three years ago, and policemen have been on my tail because of it ever since? Or maybe I forgot to fill in the amount on a check I mailed to the Republican party back in 1992, and they've been living off it ever since. That could explain all the random withdrawals from my checking account. No, that doesn't make sense. How would they do that? Or maybe I forgot that I was supposed to loan my rake to the Torkelsons in Utah back in 1996, and they're still waiting for it. That would be a little awkward now.

Was there a job I was late for and never made it back to? Did I leave all my clothes at the laundromat circa 1985? You know what... I think I did. That must've been why I started seeing people wearing pants and shirts just like mine. And all this time I thought it was because they had good taste.

Did you ever forget to turn a car off? If you're wearing headphones, it may not occur to you that the engine is still running. At least I didn't run the tank down to empty. Unless there's some other car somewhere at another time that I haven't accounted for...

This condition vacillates between paranoia and anxiety for me, so that neither of the two feel left out. Some paranoia could be justified though. I'm almost certain that eventually a medieval character is going to walk up to me and tell me what the string around my finger is for, because it wasn't me who put it there.

Oh, and here's another one... What if I forgot to do something as simple as brushing my teeth one day a few years ago? Obviously I would have brushed the following day, but that's not the point. Just the thought of having gone a whole day not having brushed teeth is a little unnerving. And now that I realize the odds of this having happened are quite good, I need to figure out when it happened. Is that why I didn't get the scholarship to Yale, possibly? Did the review board think I wasn't minty enough for them?

I've had recurring dreams where I forget until the last day of college class to show up, and I'm so far behind that I'm trying to write Ivanhoe before the bell rings just to appease the teacher, but it's still a hopeless case and I'm lucky if I can scrape out an F+. I always thought there should have been F+'s, because all the other letter grades have plusses. Wouldn't that be like failing with style? And there could be F–'s too, to send a message that not only did you fail, but you were so awful that you even gave F's a bad name.

All right, there was something I was going to do today, and I can't quite put my finger on it. It was either picking up my brother at the airport, returning the call from Obama's press secretary, or blogging. Dang, I hate when something like that slips my mind...


The Pope of Pop said...

If Ishtar was available on DVD in North America (like it is in the civilized world) you) you wouldn't have to have the problem of having a copy that's 7000 days overdue - though I have to praise your good taste in chosing Ishtar to hang onto, and to pay the ultimate price for - loss of income. If you're interested in meeting a group of people that share your love of Ishtar, send an email to

JaeJay said...

Excellent post. One day not long ago I forgot to turn my headlights off, even though the car makes a beeping sound when you open the door! As far as returning things my sister hasn't missed the shirt I borrowed in the 8th grade, so I may just let that one slide.

Anonymous said...

I laughed at almost every paragraph of this. Good editing job. Almost every sentence was funny or needed to lead up to funny.

So, the people who kept your laundromat clothes-- by any chance, would I see them walking by in turtlenecks? Lots of turtlenecks?

And why do you think "D'oh" is spelled with an apostrophe in the image above Homer's head? What letters is it replacing? ILLY? UMB?

Anonymous said...

I have never forgotten to turn my car off (or maybe I have forgotten that I had forgotten), but I have tried to start it when it was already running. At least everyone within hearing distance realizes what an idiot you are.

The Tic-Tacs in paid for them, so you can quit worrying about that one.

fyi...I have been reading your blog all along. You finally touched on a subject which I felt I had a comment worthy enough to de-lurk.

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