WHY on Earth do I Remember THIS??!?
Remember my blog about how I have no memory of, more or less, anything that ever happened to me prior to about three minutes ago? Well, turns out – I DO have a memory! And not just any memory. A razor-sharp, photographic, phonographic, corpusographic (I know, I know, I’m making these words up, but they sound cool, don’t they?) awesome amazing perfect memory.
Of the most random, useless crap on the planet.
Case in point: I was at dinner the other night, sitting at a table with a couple I had never met before. As soon as I found out the husband was from Sweden, out of my mouth blurted: “Hey! Jag heter BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin)! Hur murde?”
In a perfect Swedish accent.
The guy was floored – nobody knows Swedish in Los Angeles! Turns out – neither do I! But I know that sentence, in PERFECTLY accented, PERFECT Swedish. Along with one other gem: “Catan och mousan gor til skolan.” You guessed it folks, the one phrase you would hope every child and adult would be able to say in a foreign country: “The cat and the mouse go to school.”
When I was around thirteen, I had a friend whose father was the Diplomat from Sweden. She taught me these two phrases. And apparently, they were burned for all eternity, into my conscious memory.
And those Swedish sentences are not swimming all alone in that vast terrain! They are accompanied by song lyrics, amazing song lyrics, stuff I listened to as a pre-teen, all the way up to the present. A taste of what rattles around in my brain:
Valley Girl, she’s a Valley Girl… Okay, fine, for sure, for sure, she’s a Valley Girl, and there is no cure. Okay, fine, for sure, for sure, she’s a – “Like, Oh my God!” Valley Girl. “Like, Totally!” Valley Girl. “Oh my God, gag me with a spoon, I’m so sure!” Valley Girl.
Which reminds me of another little nugget seared into my cerebral cortex, a little sing-song rap, that must be said in a lilting imitation of a 1980’s Valley Girl:
Like, if someone held a gun to my head and said, like, “hit the floor!” I’d like, hit the floor, but if they didn’t, I, like, wouldn’t.
This was a comedy routine I learned from two adorable sisters I babysat for when I was about fourteen years old. They’d sing it, shout it, banter it back and forth… and when I came home and told my sister about it, we adopted it, and would occasionally adapt it, with whatever our latest obsession happened to be – Like, if someone held some Toesies to my head and said, like, “Hit the floor!” I’d, like, hit the floor. But if they didn’t, I, like, wouldn’t.
Don’t ask me why we were obsessed with Toesies (an infomercial gem of the 80’s, a little pink foam cut-out that fit between each toe so you could paint your toenails without them smushing each other and messing the polish up before it dried). But we were. Obsessed. It was the answer to everything, from “Hey, what are you up to?”
“Hey, come on! What are you really up to?”
“Come on!” (repeat that ad infinitum)… to
“Okay, let’s play Twenty Questions! What am I thinking of?”
“Awww… how’d you guess??”
So, yeah, that stayed with me. That, and this little moment in time when I was running through the streets of Yale, high as a kite on… ummmmm….. Well, let’s just say Book & Snake wasn’t the only Secret Society I was a member of. There was another one called B & K. Rhymes with “Long and Beg” – you figure it out, I’ve got little kids to think about!
Anyway, I was running down the street & I ran into my friend Ondi Timoner who may or may not have been in a similar state as I was, and she stopped me and held my arm tight, looked deep into my eyes, and told me, “Oh my God! I was just running down the street and I was trying to get away and I was looking for the party and all of a sudden I saw a man with a gun and he shot it and it made a sound like this:
For some reason, this statement, with its anti-punch line, made Ondi and I not only crack up to the point of not being able to catch a breath in that moment, but it provided conversational fodder for the next couple of years we were at school together, plus another year or so when I would see her around Los Angeles.
That is, if you can call saying to each other in a soft voice “crackle“ - ‘conversation.’
And finally, it’s not just jingles, rhymes, jokes and foreign languages that have glued themselves to my brain. It’s old tap-dance routines, too. One, in particular, from my much heralded role as one of the Cabbage Patch Children at Howard University’s highly anticipated Christmas in Cabbage Patch Land extravaganza, is still so familiar that if I had a video blog, I would jump up right now and do the solo tap number for you!
Lucky you, dear reader. Lucky you.
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)