“I took off for a weekend last month, just to try and recall the whole year.”
— from “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”
Like Jimmy Buffett, I thought this might be a good time to reflect upon what the year has brought us.
I got as far as “Vick, Michael,” an d decided 2007 wasn’t worth recalling. It wasn’t a 1347 (“Hey, look! The Black Plague!”), but it was no 1945 (“Hey! We’re 2-0 in World Wars!”), either. If 2007 was a fish, you’d throw it back. (If you didn’t like Britney news, you might want to neuter it and throw it back.)
But year-end reflection is not a guy thing, anyway. (That’s why Jimmy “Ran into a chum/With a bottle of rum/And wound up drinking all night.”)
Men are not big on “remember when?” You won’t see Y chromosomes gathering on New Year’s Eve to gaze winsomely back over an arbitrary chunk of calendar. That’s just too … scrapbooky. Women who enjoy that sort of thing are welcome to break out the Kenny G and go at it. But it seems like a selfish thing to do when America’s finest student-athletes are struggling to give each other concussions in The Obscurity Bowl.
Male memories are notoriously bad, anyway. This, I believe, is a genetic kindness. It allows us to suppress painful images of parachute pants, adolescent facial hair and what we looked like when we’d “Wang Chung tonight.” But our memories are flawed tools. Guys frequently shore up their faulty recall with an inflexible confidence. Nothing is more dangerous than a guy who has “been there once.” The Bermuda Triangle is probably full of ships, circling eternally, because their navigators “just know there’s a port around here someplace.”
But the male memory is extremely practical, moving forward. A veteran once described World War II to me this way: “It was very unpleasant. Everyone was shouting. Then, later, I bought a house on the G.I. Bill!” Our memories are a condensed fusion of what actually happened, what nearly happened, and what by-God should have happened. (If you’re Irish, your beverage factors in.)
And they’re flexible! I was a .140 hitter in high school whose only athletic virtue was punctuality. But my skills, and my stats, improve every year as specifics fade and corroborating witnesses die off.
Sinatra was so right when he sang: “What’s too painful to remember/We simply choose to forget.” (See note below)
Which brings us back to 2007. You can remember it as a murky soup of overseas unrest, Beltway infighting, Anna Nicole coverage, Malibu firestorms, O.J. aftershocks, global warming, steroids stings, Kurt Vonnegut passing on, Lindsay Lohan passing out and a long game of nuclear peekaboo with Iran.
Or you can remember selectively, like guys do. I went to a new restaurant this year. They had very good chicken. It was a good chicken year.
(Note: It wasn’t Sinatra? That’s how I remember it.)