18 July 2012

on the fallibility of childhood memories

What is your earliest memory? Can you trust it, or do you think—as so often happens—it's been altered over the years and it's just based on a family story?

I realize that's somewhat of a leading question, but I have an agenda and that's when leading questions are most useful.

This is my agenda: proving to my family that I have two very vivid memories before age 4 and that this is not the youngest's wild plea for attention or attempt to have a part in those family stories from the early 80s.

Okay, maybe it is a wild plea for attention, but if my parents had not done such memorable things before I was 4—such as taking all of us to the 1984 Olympic Games in LA or allowing me to swallow a dime while biking across Iowa—we would not be having this conversation.

If we had done nothing more than normal things, I wouldn't be so determined to prove that I have things to say about the early 80s, too.

Had we just

gone to gymnastics lessons,
taken naps,
eaten corn on the cob,
played accountant and tax client at my dad's accounting firm {not a normal childhood game? Oh. Just pretend I said "play school."},
and gotten Blizzards from the Dairy Queen,

I wouldn't care as much about remembering those, cherished memories of a typical Iowa childhood though they are.

But when everyone else starts talking about being on RAGBRAI in 1985, I want to say: You know what I remember from that year? The doctor at the Mason City Hospital, where I'd been rushed after swallowing a dime, asking me if I liked to wear masks.

Take that, family: You may remember biking over big hills and funny conversations with each other, but I remember being asked about a mask.

And I remember thinking—Uh, who doesn't like wearing masks? We are talking about Barbie masks that come with the cheap Halloween costumes from Wal-Mart, aren't we?

For the record, the doctor was not talking about that kind of mask.


More to come soon on how the mask I ended up wearing was not at all like Barbie's face. It wasn't even like a GI Joe's face. I was a very disappointed 3-year-old.

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