By the time I was twelve, my dad was calling me “the absent-minded professor.” Actually, he may have started calling me that when I was nine or ten; I really can’t remember for sure. What I do remember is having earned the description when I was still a relatively young dude.
He would send me to the garage to get some tool and by the time I got to the garage, I couldn’t remember which tool it was. I’d sail out of the house thinking “adjustable wrench” and by the time I’d taken a few steps I’d be thinking “adjustable stools” and how cool it was that you could change the height on the stool. Then I’d think about sitting on a stool and how neat it was to be higher than the people sitting on chairs. With that, I’d launch into thinking about what kinds of trees were higher than others. “Oaks and maples get pretty tall,” I’d think and then I’d remember the hickories and ash trees growing in the bottomland woods and wonder which of them was actually the tallest. Then there was the huge sycamore in the field up near Simmons’ house… By this time I’d be standing in the garage, staring at the tool panel and wondering why on earth I had been sent out to the garage.
So then I’d trot back to the house or milk shed and have to ask again. Usually on the second trip I’d be embarrassed or scared enough to remember. However, at age seven or eight I was not always perfectly clear on the exact distinction between an “adjustable wrench,” a “monkey wrench” and a “pipe wrench.” Sometimes I’d come back with two or three just to be sure I didn’t have to make another trip. When you’re young and full of energy and only a few hundred feet away from the garage, it’s not such a big deal. When you’ve been sent up from the corn field a half-mile away, that’s a whole ‘nother matter.
What would be really useful would be if I could figure out how to selectively use this affliction of mine. If I could forget hurts, insults and disappointments as easily as I can forget where I left Randa’s truck keys, her quality of life and mine would both get a big lift!