The brain is a really weird thing. Well, perhaps not yours…but mine definitely is. For instance, I’ll be going about my day and all of a sudden I’ll start thinking about something that happened last week, last month, hell, even something from decades ago. And the kicker is, it will totally be unrelated to my current activity and I won’t be able to clear it from my head.
I should clarify that when many people have this happen, like my wife, they contemplate important matters such as an upcoming school registration, a bill that is due (or past-due), a house repair that is looming, etc.
Me? Not so much. That is to say I do have those thoughts pop up sometimes, however, for some God-forsaken reason, the things that typically decide to grace me with their unwelcome presence are ones that are embarrassing, regretful, or otherwise ignominious that I can do nothing about. They’re ones that, if I had my druthers, I’d just as soon never remember again.
I’d like to punish my brain when this happens. But the thought of my brain being the thing that’s trying to punish itself (or at least a portion of itself) is fantastically strange and just leads down a rabbit hole that I don’t care to travel. But maybe that’s just my own mind trolling me (yet again) or tricking me into not following through with the proposed punishment.
To further illustrate my mind’s absurdity, there was the time when I was driving to work one morning and I was overcome with the embarrassment of a particular lunchtime incident from second grade. Back then, I thought I had devised a clever way of efficiently disposing of my lunch trash. I packed all of my food remnants and wrappers into a single Ziploc sandwich bag and tossed it in the garbage in one single, space-saving swoop. For some bizarre (and still unknown) reason, I was very enthralled with my efficiency and I decided to bring it to the attention of one of my friends. As I pointed into the giant lunchroom trash bin, the entire interior of my left arm sleeve became stained in ketchup that had been resting, unbeknownst to me, on the outer rim. For the rest of the day, I was stuck in class with the stale scent of ketchup emanating from my side.
Or how about the time that I went to shake a friend’s hand while he went in for the bro-hug…and rather than pull my hand back, I kept it extended and stabbed him in the gut. That was fun too. And it regularly haunts me. sigh
Well, I hope you enjoyed that little glimpse into my mind.
My most recent bout of paralyzing inconsequential rumination happened the other morning as I was getting ready for work. I was a bit bleary-eyed because I’m not a morning person and, well, let’s face it, getting ready for work sucks. I was reaching for a shirt in my closet, when all of a sudden I started thinking about my daughter’s first birthday party that we had this past weekend. It was just a small gathering of a few family members and was nearly the exact opposite of the over-the-top, grandiose birthday party we threw for my son several years ago.
Side note: we weren’t playing favorites…we simply came to our senses after that particular bash and realized that we went a bit off the deep-end.
Anyway, a sense of having forgotten to do something started to well up inside of me. Yes, for the party that went very smoothly and had also ended days ago. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. And, unable to shake it like a Polaroid picture and being resigned to my fate, I carried the thought around with me for the better part of my morning routine.
And then, out of nowhere, I felt a rush of adrenaline flow through me as I realized what I had forgotten to do. And, as if triggered by a reflex, a Seinfeld scene popped into my mind. This clip in particular:
While not the identical situation, it was pretty damn similar. I had actually reversed it…distributing cake without coffee. Gasp! The horror and shame was palpable.
Ok, the theme of my daughter’s birthday was a tea party, and obviously people had a drink to go along with their cake. But how could I have forgotten the most well-known dessert staple? This realization left me shaking my head.
How could I have forgotten the coffee? How stupid did I look? Did people think I was being rude? Why didn’t anyone say anything or ask for it?…I would have gladly put a pot on. Were people upset about it? Should I text or email people and apologize for my omission? How will I remember to do this next time we have people over? Yeah, those were my actual thoughts. Because of all the things going on in the world to worry about, that is what was running through my head. And it stayed with me until noon.
Happily, lunch was apparently the trigger for my mind to shift away from the coffee faux pas and my thoughts focused on cake…delicious, delicious cake. So at least I could change gears and fixate on something pleasant, even though I didn’t have cake with me at the time. But that’s beside the point.
What I’m really looking forward to is when, years from now, I’m trying on a pair of shoes at the store, shoveling my driveway, or in the middle of some other menial activity and my mind will torment me with this irrelevant incident again.