Posted by: ritagone | April 14, 2010

Old…What’s His Name?????

From Michael, guest blogger:

He has a famous face and a famous voice, and all of you have seen him in the movies. The first film I ever remember seeing him in was BONNIE AND CLYDE. He was in DOWNHILL RACER with Robert Redford. I think he really became famous as the cop in THE FRENCH CONNECTION.


He was the mysterious detective in Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION. He has starred in over 50 films, and I have seen most of them. I remember him in MISSISSIPPI BURNING and as the “never say die” coach in THE HOOSIERS and the “by the book” captain in CRIMSON TIDE.


But for the life of me, I can never remember his name. Oh sure, you’re saying “Gene Hackman”! Easy for you, but not for me.


The problem is that I can visualize him in my mind; I can hear his voice (even on the LOWES hardware store commercials where he used to say, “Let’s build something together.”) But his name just does not come to mind. It is very frustrating.


There is not a good reason why I need to remember Gene Hackman’s name, but it has now become an obsession with me. I can be driving to the store or standing in the shower and all of a sudden I think: “what is that guy’s name?” The man in the movies? The man in RUNAWAY JURY?


I can’t bring his name to mind; I don’t have a clue. Is it Raymond or Richard…no, Richard Dreyfuss was in the same movie with…with…what is his name? This sometimes goes on for five minutes.


I try to put it out of my mind. I know that if I can just think about something else, his name will pop into my consciousness. But try not thinking about something you are thinking about…and then, there it is…Gene Hackman. That’s it. Gene Hackman. Gene Hackman. Gene Hackman. Gene Hackman. I say his name to myself over and over. Maybe this will create some sort of neuron path that will make it easier to recall in the future.


But a few days later, I have the same problem again. The Gene Hackman neuron path has just been permanently damaged, or it has encountered a detour that takes his file through some circuitous road through the brain by way of the section where old phone numbers and bits of conversation you had in childhood are stored.


The only reason I bring this up is that my memory malfunction has become the source of some concern for my wife and children. They respond as if I am being irresponsible when I can’t think of something or forget something that seems very important to them, like taking out the trash or feeding the dog or picking them up at the airport.


They seem to think that if I were just to concentrate with more fervor, I could make these things come to mind. They all seem so good at doing this themselves. Rita remembers everyone’s phone number. She remembers the street address for houses we lived in 35 years ago. Watching her do this is always impressive. Maybe I am just a person who does not pay enough attention to the world I am passing through.


But then, I started to notice that Rita sometimes forgets to enter information on the checks she writes on the computer. Our daughter forgets to write down the dates for a vacation in July and asks me for the information three or four times. My son forgets to drop off a plumbing bill even after the third time he has come by the house. And these are people in their thirties (well, except for Rita)!  I have started to keep a notebook of what people forget. Everyone forgets things. They just forget different things. Oh sure, there is always the exception. The really annoying person who remembers everything, but even I can remember to avoid him.


So the next time you forget something and someone gives you a hard time, I hope you can remember to give yourself some grace. The memory is a strange thing. I think we remember having a better memory than we really did. We also just have more stuff on our brain’s hard-drive. When you have a difficulty remembering something, just think of …Robert…Richard…Gene Hackman! and maybe the thing you are searching for will come back.



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