My Aunt Lilly is a platinum life master at duplicate bridge, who has accumulated so many Master’s points she has stopped counting. Weather permitting, Uncle Max plays chess in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Plays chess is a bit of an understatement, as Max plays eight different opponents at eight different tables, calmly walking from table to table while he calls out things like “knight to bishop four.” Away from the bridge and chess tables, however, Max and Lilly are a mess. Max might brew a cup of coffee and put out his blood pressure medication on a Monday morning, only to have Lilly run into the pills in the cat’s water dish and the coffee under the sink on Wednesday afternoon. Lilly will go chasing off in a taxi—she can never seem to find her car keys—already two hours late for the appointment with the urologist that Max was scheduled for. Last year, they spent the entire month of April looking for shoes, medication, cell phones, computers and pets, unable to leave the house for a walk in the sun. They raised three children in their raised ranch, and when asked will tell you that they believe one son is still living there.
The couple’s well organized neighbors hold all their tickets for them—sending them reminders about upcoming events and providing the tickets no sooner than an hour before the show is to start or the flight is to leave. Max tells the story about buying tickets downtown for a musical, somehow making it to the theater with both Lilly and the tickets, and spending the entire first act in sad balcony seats wondering why his friends, who were sitting in the second row, had two empty seats next to them. After the show, he remembered buying tickets twice—once with his friends and once by himself, but the final irony was having Lilly remember she had also bought four tickets, although she was not sure where they might be.
In this crazy, over caffeinated world of hurry, hurry, hurry, we are all more like Lilly and Max than we would like to admit, and that is the reason, we at Stevieslaw are please to publish: At an Undisclosed Location—The Less-intelligent-than-average-American Guide to Memory. In the guide, you will learn hundreds of helpful memory tips, among them:
1. Traditional Methods—These include the use of string and more recently post-it notes. The string technique dates back to antiquity—the early 1950’s, and was first used by Wilma Blecker, who tied a bit of string to her ring finger to remind herself that the gas stove was on. While not effective in her case—the fire and subsequent explosion engulfed two city blocks, she will be remembered forever for her idea. The technique is multifaceted as if you have many things to remember, you may use different fingers, or wrists and ankles, or even different colored strings. The downside of the technique—gangrene, particularly among the elderly, led to the meteoric growth of post-it notes as a memory stimulant. Post-it notes come in 1014 different colors and have a distinct advantage over string—you are able to write down what you are trying to remember. The downside of post-it notes is their easy availability—most people just steal the pads from work, which fosters their overuse. My cousin Jerry lost his living room wall to the weight of post-it notes, all of them inscribed with the location of his cell phone, which he finally found buried under the wall.
2. Computer Based Methods—My wife and I feel that “find your I-phone/ I-pad,” is the greatest app ever invented. If only we could remember how to turn off the pinging. Pinging seems to erupt from perfectly arbitrary places in our house all day and all night. Now, through the wonders of computer miniaturization, you can equip every single thing that is important to your life and well-being with a gnat-sized chip that will emit a clear, crisp ping, each time it is voice activated. Imagine your relief as your keys ping from under the stairs, your cell phone from the clothes dryer, and your underwear from the fresh vegetable keeper in the refrigerator. All at the same time!
3. Counseling and Medication—My friend, the renowned psychologist, Iseek A.N. Ifind, told me recently that counseling and medication have never cured anyone of misplacing their entire lives someplace in the attic. What it can miraculously do, however, is make you not worry about the loss. Imagine you are missing your car keys, your phone and your left shoe, yet you are able to hobble off downtown to your job (which is actually uptown) with a song in your heart and a smile (and some egg) on your face. Priceless.
4. Downsizing—Remember last month’s LAGuide on downsizing? Of course you don’t. Read it again, as the simplest way to keep track of everything you own or need to know is to not have anything at all. Get rid of it! Get rid of it all!
Buy 30 or 40 copies of the guide wherever they are sold. You are certain to forget where you put the first dozen or two.