The Old Coot survives because of a memory cooperative

I belong to a shared memory cooperative. Several, actually. One of the co-ops meets once a week, on the golf course: Tom, George, Don and myself. With weapons in hand, we attack the greenery and talk about old times. It’s definitely a co-op discussion, because this group has the least amount of firing neurons of all the groups I belong to. But, we get through most of our conversations with the correct names of people and places. Plus, we lie and our memories are so poor, the lies go undetected. 

My high school fraternity, AZ of Binghamton Central High, has a reunion every other year, ending with a picnic at Endwell Greens Golf Course. The youngest guys are in their late 60’s. My section is the senior component, though we didn’t start out that way. The gathering turns into a “Talk about the good old days” festival! Loaded with blank spaces that the memory co-op quickly fills in. It’s also a conversation, rife with expletives’ like, “Wow! I haven’t thought of that in years!” or “I don’t remember that at all. Are you sure it was me who threw the egg that hit the new school principal on his first day?” But, enough members of the group do remember, so the teller’s information is confirmed.

Two other groups meet weekday mornings, one group, the northern co-op, alternates between Carol’s Art and Coffee Bar and the Owego Kitchen. The other, the southern co-op, gathers at Starbucks in Ormond Beach, Florida. We sit around sipping coffee and discussing topics of the day and reminiscing over past events. It’s a disjointed conversation because there is only the equivalent of one full memory between the whole bunch of us, the shared memory co-op. If you start to tell a story about something and get stuck on a person’s name; no problem; someone in the cooperative will immediately supply the missing tidbit and the rest of the story is unveiled without a long pause. 

My wife and I have our own small, shared memory cooperative. We constantly fill in the blanks for each other when a lost memory gets stuck on the proverbial, “Tip of the tongue.” And, we cheat too, thanks to the existence of Wikipedia with answers to questions like: “Is so and so still alive” (some Movie or TV star, usually)  – “How old is what’s-his-name?” – “Who starred in that movie show?” The Wick always comes through.

I only have one memory issue at the moment, “Did I already write an article like this and get it published?” I don’t know. I can only hope my readers also require a shared memory cooperative to get through the day and won’t remember if I have.

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