I have learned in over twenty-five years of marriage not to lock the door behind my husband when he leaves for work—or anywhere else for that matter. The reason is he invariably forgets something he needs and comes back to get it. If the door is locked, he has to go to the trouble of digging out his keys, assuming the keys weren’t what he forgot. Usually I am safe to lock it after he has returned to the house once, although on occasion, he has come back twice before getting out of the driveway. This is if he remembers the needed item(s) before he gets that far. I can guarantee if we drive to church separately, I will get a call asking me to bring whatever it is he forgot, like his sermon notes or his Bible. He kept leaving his coffee thermos at work when he needed it at home, and vice versa, so I bought him a second one for Christmas. Guess what? Now they are both either at home or at work.
You might infer from the above that my husband is one of those people who would forget his head if it weren’t attached. But that’s not the case. My husband has an amazing memory. For example, he can tell you every place he has ever stopped for gas on a trip—something I find a bit odd—and he can also probably tell you how much he paid for the gas. He can tell you, in detail, about every flight mission he ever flew. He can tell you every idiosyncrasy of every airplane which was ever made in the world, starting with the Wright Brothers. I would bet money he can recite every phone number from every place he has ever lived.
It is simply a matter of what is important to him. I have to admit that some of the things he retains in his brain should have been booted out years ago to make room for more relevant information, but, hey, it’s his brain and he has to live with it. However, I will never let him forget the story about the best Reuben sandwich he ever ate. He was going on at length to some friends about the best Reuben sandwich saga. He remembered every detail—where he ate it, what specifically was so good about it, how it compared to the second best Reuben sandwich he ever ate, probably what time he ate it, how much it cost, and what table he was sitting at. The setting was a Cracker Barrel in Columbus, Ohio on February 13, 2003. The reason we were in Columbus at such a dreadful time as the middle of winter was for the wedding of his older daughter. At some point in the conversation, I interrupted his Reuben rhapsody.
“Doug. Why were we even in Ohio?”
He thought a moment. “For Angela’s wedding,” he replied, triumphantly.
“And what color were the bridesmaids’ dresses?” I asked.
He looked annoyed, as if anyone in their right mind should be expected to remember such a trivial matter. “I don’t know,” he answered, in a voice that conveyed the sentiment of, “Who cares?”
“Well, then, who were the bridesmaids?”
I will admit that this could have been an unfair question, as I would doubt a lot of men would remember who the bridesmaids were at a wedding. However, we had picked up one of the bridesmaids on the drive from Florida to Ohio, so she was in the car with us for several hundred miles. One of the other bridesmaids was his younger daughter.
“I don’t remember,” he answered.
“So the highlight of your daughter’s wedding was the Reuben sandwich you ate at a Cracker Barrel?”
He sputtered to work his way out of that one. “We weren’t talking about Angela’s wedding. We were talking about a Reuben.”
Still, I knew I had him. That Reuben was, indeed, the highlight of the wedding.
I should be grateful he remembers my name, as one of the things he has a lot of trouble remembering is people’s names. But I am one of the fortunate people who have crossed his path in that he actually wrote my name down when we met so he wouldn’t forget it. He wrote it down wrong, but still it’s the thought that counts.