Occasionally, (The Beast can’t remember exactly how often) a telephone call will come from The Ex in which she will say something like “The kids have a dentist appointment three weeks from tomorrow at the office in Raymond, they have to be there by nine-thirty, can you take them?” The Beast will grunt his assent and file the event in that portion of his memory reserved for “Some Stuff I Will Need To Do A Long Time From Now.” but which ought to be relabeled “My Mental Bermuda Triangle” because things that sail into it have a very, very, good chance of never being seen again.
It is not that The Beast is a particularly forgetful specimen of a gender that’s well known for a specific type of forgetfulness; He can remember certain kinds of things with startling, tedious clarity. He can recite almost every line from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”, or bore you for hours with a blow-by-blow reenactment of the time he caught his first trophy Striped Bass in nineteen-ninety-something-or-other (it was spitting rain that day, early incoming tide with a lot of seaweed in the “shit” line at the south side of the Piscataqua River and we were drifting the Fox Point Ledge with live bait herring netted the night before in the Salmon Falls River, but the bait kept hiding under the seaweed and getting snarled up…), he can remember lots of stuff.
For example, he can remember with crystalline clarity the humiliation he felt at one emergency room visit (two or three but definitely not four years ago) in which the receptionist asked him the exact day, year and month of the birth of his whelp and he broke out into a cold sweat trying to untangle the statistics from his mental gill-net. Some counting on fingers was required, further complicated by her merciless half-lidded gaze. No doubt she was wondering how he had been allowed out of the special home without his hockey helmet and pads. However The Beast recouped beautifully with the triage nurse, recounting every detail of every symptom suffered by his child in perfect chronological context, including every medication (both generic and name brands) and exact dosage with accompanying results, going back at least four years. The nurse said she had never been given such a detailed, yet concise overview of an illness by a parent in her entire career.
Not a day goes by that The Beast doesn’t wonder why some memories stick to his mental No-Pest Flypaper Strip while others buzz blithely out the window. Dates, appointments, names are as ephemeral as a freshly hatched mayfly, but poems, monologues, sporting/historical events and computer file directory trees are set in amber and last decades.
It must be a gender thing.
Women must be to blame for part of this; they are just too good at remembering stuff men are too bad at. Loathe as he may be to admit it, The Beast needs women – they function as an extension of his own mind, an extra F-drive to his mental computer (not unlike a memory stick) which can be plugged in to access data that’s not usually kept on C:/. They have learned to prepare him for any impending event with a well-placed phone call. Timing is important, this call always needs to come no more than one week before said event, with a follow-up one or two days before the actual dénouement. Even his whelps know this and are highly amused by “Daddy’s holey memory”.
Women never forget anything – screw up a few times and you’ll realize that. But their capacity for remembering dates, times and places is indespensible. Without women the world would be reduced to a place in which wandering gangs of men carom off each other as they idle into stores looking for the toilet paper they forgot to buy yesterday and catastrophically discovered they needed about ten minutes ago. They will, of course, leave the store with a bag full of Berkely Power Bait, ten pounds of beef jerky, powdered cumin and an alarm clock shaped like a football helmet. They’re men. They can’t help it.