I have been contacted by an agent of my parents (code-named "Mom") with a complaint about my recent coverage of our childhood My-T-Fine pudding debacles. Unfortunately, this request for me to cease and desist has just opened up a further cavalcade of repressed memories. I am always fascinated by the human mind, and how imprints of past events remain floating around for a lifetime. What happened to me the other day actually makes me think that there is enough information stored in a person's mind to someday be able to unwrap a person's entire memory from near birth. Let me explain.
I was dawdling on eBay the other day, looking for great buys on single airplane napkins. I typed in "napkin" and one of the hits wasn't an airplane napkin at all - it was a St. Labre Indian School camping salt and pepper shaker set. For most people, this wouldn't be cause for alarm. However, a long-buried synapse fired in the back of my mind. When I was young, we used to have a set of these. The pattern is unmistakeable - ugly colors, cheap plastic. Man with tepee represents salt, and deer with butterfly represents pepper.
But, as is often the case with a mind as utterly magnificent as mine, the sight of these crappy shakers touched off a second memory: the fornispoo. For at one point, we had a single combo fork-knife-spoon set, the kind that latches together so that you can take it...CAMPING. I searched my mind more deeply, but I recalled no time that we ever went camping as a family. Leaving behind the obvious answer - my mom was a compulsive crap-by-the-lot purchaser at local tag sales - I feel that there may be a far more sinister explanation. Growing up, I was part of a camping family.
But something so horrible, so unspeakable, must've happened on one of our frequent trips to the Adirondacks that I must've completely wiped it from my memory. What could it have been? It must've been something really bad, because my sister remembers things like being spanked and sent home pantsless by our former neighbors, the F------s. And I remember when Michael F---- stuck a marble up David's ass and they couldn't get it out, and it ended up with their little sister Erin being denied pants for the rest of the day to "think about what she'd done." So then, worse than a psychotic neighbor.
Then it hit me - the reason I don't recall any details of our frequent camping trips is that I used to have a twin brother, Joel. When we went to one of our frequent camping trips, using the St. Labre shakers and the fornispoo and some other tin camping stuff whose origins were shrouded in mystery at Chez Trup-ardle, I was killed and eaten by a bear. The bear snuck up on our campground at night, slashed through my tent fabric, and devoured my secret stash of Wacky Packages gum. He (and I'm assuming it was a he - my memory is a bit vague on this point) then spotted me in my "all 26 NFL team logos" sleeping bag and, enraged that they were using the older Chicago Bears logo, mercilessly slashed and ripped at me until I passed out from the pain. My twin brother, Joel, survived the attack and assumed my name, ghastly acrylic sweaters, fly-away hair, and overbite. I got a shallow plot in the middle of a KOA campground. The sleeping bag was the family's only remaining memory of me; it was destroyed in 1982 when "we" gave it to some of the boxers for a slumber party and they ripped it to shreds while fighting over a bitchy comment that Daisy made about Poppy's floppy left ear. The past 31 years of my life have been a lie. So, "Mom", if that IS your real name, I just want to thank you for this latest round of therapy.