Making room

Jan 30, 2013 at 6:00 am

Learning becomes more difficult as we age not because we have trouble absorbing new information, but because we fail to forget the old stuff, researchers say … Think of it as writing on a blank piece of white paper versus a newspaper page, said the lead author, Joe Z. Tsien. “The difference is not how dark the pen is, but that the newspaper already has writing on it.” —The New York Times

Note to self: Begin purge of the following no-longer-essential stuff.

The misguided bangs and sideburns of Captain Kangaroo. The pattern of liver spots on the hands of my adorable, old kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gerlach.

The Apostle’s Creed, the Act of Contrition and any remaining vestiges of “The Baltimore Catechism.”

The disturbing way President Kennedy’s eyes followed me around the room in the picture hanging on the wall in our apartment growing up. The exact appearance of the pliers and the method for using them necessary to change the channel on the black and white TV in our kitchen after the knob fell off in 1971.

Any and all baseball statistics involving the Oakland A’s from 1972-1974, including the batting averages of Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi and Gene Tenace, as well as any information pertaining to the handlebar mustache of Rollie Fingers.

The lyrics to the theme songs of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Brady Bunch” and “The Addams Family,” as well as the introductory lines to every episode of “Star Trek.” Devilled ham on white bread. Mayonnaise sandwiches. How to prepare any of the dishes in the fine family of boxed Chef Boyardee products. The smell of home permanents. Any show featuring the psychological analysis of Dr. Joyce Brothers.

The color and pattern of the bikini worn by the girl I never worked up the gumption to say hi to at the swimming pool near my grandparents’ house that summer when I was 14. The birthdays of everybody I’ve loved who has died.

The exact meaning of and proper way to deliver the line “Up your nose with a rubber hose.” The lyrics to “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “The Candy Man” and “Alone Again (Naturally).” The entire Alice Cooper oeuvre. The super-secret fist-bump method guaranteed to pop open any locker in my high school. The campaign jingles of U.S. Rep Gene Snyder (R-Ky.) and Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.). Pretty much all music from the ’80s, other than Elvis Costello and Talking Heads. OK, Springsteen and Public Enemy can stay.

The muscle memory required to perform the following: How to preset car radio stations before they went electronic. How to make a cassette mix tape from albums. That “carriage return” that had to come at the end of every line on a manual typewriter. The manual car window crank. Dialing a rotary phone. Faxing.

Denny Crum’s pronunciation of “Henredon.” The rumored relationship between being insured and being wise. The Smith’s-Furniture-That’s-Who owl.

How to set a wristwatch. How to wear a wristwatch. How to tell time on a wristwatch. How to fold a map. The aroma and general stickiness of the men’s room at Tewligan’s.

Any impassioned arguments I ever made about the subjunctive mode, oxford commas or transubstantiation. The McDLT. 2 Live Crew.

Barney the Dinosaur and his song “I Love You,” as well as the schoolyard parody “I Hate You.” Also, “Mister Knickerbocker.”The entire creative output of Adam Sandler, Dan Brown and Nellie.

The train schedule for every stop on the 7:15 local between Franklin, Mass., and Boston’s South Station.

The phone numbers to any and all landlines. Actually, any phone numbers at all, since they’re all either in my phone or online.

CPM. Open rates. Click-throughs. Web 2.0 B2B. “Think Different.” Friendster. Myspace. “You’ve Got Mail.”

The Commonwealth Accountability Testing System’s Kentucky Core Content Test as a metric for your school’s Adequate Yearly Progress. The almost-daily maniacal ravings of former state Sen. David Williams (R-Burkesville).

Any photo of any young person using a beer bong on Facebook. Every corny platitude spelled out in a scripty font as a graphic image on Facebook. Every comment acclaiming the profundity of those platitudes on Facebook. Facebook.

Note to self: That should free up some space. Begin uploading new information.