by Jonathan Bionic Perry
Imagine you could breeze your way through school remembering historical dates, theorems, stats, and paintings. You would graduate at the top of your class, get loads of scholarships, wouldn’t have to pay for school, then take a job doing brain surgery on those very small monkeys that throw poop in and out of captivity. You’d know lots of stuff, so you’d be good in conversations as long as you didn’t lord your ability over the common people too much. You’d remember the names of people you work with, date, or grew up with. Things would be less awkward.
You’d have instant access to all your life experiences, could relate interesting stories, and correct family members’ recollections because they’d all know that you have a photographic memory, and they‘d all have to bow to your superior wisdom. Then you could study for the IQ exam, learning some basic theories about how shapes relate, then take the exam, get a perfect score, and be declared among the most gifted minds of our generation. You’d have loads of self-esteem, date models whose names you’d remember, and grow wealthy beyond your wildest imagination. I think it would be cool to have a photographic memory (aka pornographic memory, because, um, well…).
My grandfather is said to have a photographic memory. It’s a point of pride in the family. My grandmother might carry on about how my grandfather is such an old goat, but in the next breath she’ll gush about his fantastic memory or his magnificent brain. I’m not sure that there’s an official way of measuring his memory, but frankly, I don’t doubt his braininess. He’s one smart cookie. He’s even still practicing medicine at age 83! I imagine the memory came in handy in medical school when he was asked to differentiate between antibodies and Golgi bodies. Also, he can remember all his children’s names, which is a feat in itself.
I’m personally not so good with the memory thing. I often have difficulty remembering names of friends I’ve had for years. I recently tried to be formal and introduce one friend to another, but I awkwardly blanked on the spot and totally forgot one of the names. It was terribly embarrassing, I think my friend was a little hurt, and I apologized quite a bit for the next week (I‘m really, really sorry…uh, Gregg). There are many times when I feel like my brain is Swiss Cheese with gaps in personal history recollection or names of everyday items, like milk, which is then referred to as ‘the white stuff‘, as in, “Please pass the white stuff.”
I’ve begun fearing the early onset of Alzheimer’s, which actually does run in the family (Not the early stuff, but the normal stuff. Grandpa‘s mom had it.). I don’t know if it’s too early to start exhibiting signs in your 30s. Hopefully, it’s just lack of sleep or something cool where you reserve your brain power in one way to use it more effectively in another way like when you try to remember what a real female looks like naked, but then lose the memory of where you parked your car. It’s probably just ADD. Apparently, depression can ruin your memory, too.
I suppose having a photographic memory would have some drawbacks. You’d have ready access to all the bad stuff that’s happened to you over the years that you’d normally suppress (bad jobs, the verbal abuse, the awkward teenage years), and because of your remarkable memory, you’d be plagued with all that psychological paralyzing weight. It might not be that advantageous after all. Furthermore, it would be harder to weasel out of things. You couldn’t get out of commitments by saying, “Oh, I forgot,” because everyone would know that you didn’t forget. You’re like an elephant that never forgets. You’d have to think up better excuses altogether, like, “I had a brain cramp,” or “MENSA called an emergency brainstorming session with Colonel Mustard in the library with a pipe and I’m the official crime scene investigator and I just couldn’t get out of it for the life of Mr. Green.” Yeah, smarty, there’d be a price.
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