Remembering can be a battle

Published 12:00 pm Friday, October 2, 2015

By TJ Ray

As I turned the key in the ignition, my eyes passed over the gauges in front of me.

The tire pressure monitor system light had the same yellow glow it’s had for four years. My hope is that indicates that tire pressure is OK. One other gauge informed me that Trip A was 38.4 miles.

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I had to move a Kroger sales slip out of the way to set my coffee in the little holder. Across it at some time I had written “Jimmy M*.” Who Jimmy M* is eluded me. Nor could I remember why I wrote his name and punctuated it with the asterisk. I haven’t known a Jimmy M. since high school. Even more curious were the numbers under his name: 3 — 8 1/2×11. By the time I got to the bottom of my driveway, I had cleverly deduced that I needed to print three pictures eight and a half by eleven inches for somebody named Jimmy. As with the name, I had no clue which picture was needed.

An index card I had stuck above the visor over the steering wheel offered one final mystery. In my handwriting were the words “grits, salsa, artichoke.” When had I jotted down that little shopping list? Did all those ingredients go together? Why would I put artichoke since I don’t like them a bit?

True confession: I am getting forgetful. I have no idea when I set my Trip A odometer to zero, intending to learn the distance from wherever I was to wherever I was going. Of course, when I arrived, I forgot to see how far it was. Not many decades ago I could have known the two places I was measuring distance between when I punched the odometer button. Now it just displays meaningless number. Trip B odometer is just as uninformative.

I like meeting new folks, but somehow their names don’t register in my brain as well as their faces do. The next time I meet them, I may quite likely greet them nicely but without a clue as to who they are.

One thing I consciously work at is remembering to take my keys out of the ignition when I park the car. Then I hold them in my hand as I get out, cleverly figuring that I cannot lock myself out if I’m holding the magic key. I’ve even been examining the car with the idea of planting a spare key somewhere outside for emergency use. (Once at the Washington Monument, the fellow next to me locked himself out of his VW bus. As my bus matched his, we tried my key and, voila! it worked.)

Just past my birthday. Guess it’s time to take the string tied from around my finger. It’s been there for weeks to remind me of something. Probably meant to say happy birthday to myself. This turning 50 again just isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.

T.J. Ray, a retired professor of English at the University of Mississippi, can be reached at