If you cross a street, howling like a dog, people look at you and wonder whether you’re crazy. If you just walk across the street like everyone else, you don’t have to explain yourself. If you know that Obama is the current President of the USA, nobody challenges you for knowing that. If you don’t know, people demand an explanation.
Last month, I mentioned to a basketball fan about my own age that Sherman White was the best player of the early 1950s. He was astonished that I remembered White.
He: “How come you remember him?”
SG: “Well, I just do.”
He: “But I don’t get it. I had forgotten all about him.”
We chatted a bit more and again I amazed him when I said, “It is so interesting that John Adams and Tom Jefferson died on the same day, Independence Day, exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”
He: “What? How do you know that?”
SG: “I don’t know. It’s one of those great coincidences, I guess, that just sticks in one’s mind.”
He: “Not mine,” he replied. “You’re rather weird.”
SG: “Maybe. But remembering that is not much proof.”
He: “You really should have your head examined. It’s so chock full of trivia.”
SG: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.”
Later, for whatever weird reason, he asked me if I knew how many games Hal Newhouser and Dizzy Trout had jointly won in their banner year. I didn’t remember, and my companion was very pleased.
He: “That’s more like it. It doesn’t much matter. I was just testing to see if you are a hopeless lunatic.”
Thank goodness, I passed the test but later, after we parted, a flash of recollection hit me and I pulled out my cellular phone in order to call him. God intervened and said, “Don’t be a dope. Let well enough alone. You know you’d have to offer an abject apology for remembering.” I wasn’t sure what God meant by “abject” but figured out that my not knowing or pretending not to know was a point in my favor.
I wish I could remember when and what is okay to remember.