I’m not a doctor, but I’ve played Doctor (and Spin the Bottle), so that gives me some authority to speak about the human body – the mind, specifically. My brain, like a computer hard drive, records facts, conversations and moments in time and later recalls them.
Mark Belanger was the shortstop for the ’69 Orioles.
My old friend George now lives in Sacramento.
You have to use flux when soldering copper.
These are factoids I never think about. When they’re needed, they’re there, right on the hard drive I keep between my ears. Old phone numbers, combinations to long gone locks, people who are now dead - they’re stored on my hard drive brain, somewhere.
Unfortunately, I am not in control of retrieving these facts. Unlike my hard drive, my search engine works independently. I’ll be eating an ice cream cone and suddenly recall that my sister broke her arm when she fell off a horse. I’ll smell after shave and remember that I left the water running in my college dormitory bathroom in 1977. Moments from sleep, I’ll remember the words to the song “Pictures of Matchstick Men”.
Yesterday I was driving with the windows down. It was about 3:15. For no reason whatsoever, my personal search engine engaged the database located on my hard drive and alerted me of the fact that I did not have to go to school the next day.
It was an unmistakable feeling, as if I was driving home from class, seventeen and at the wheel of a ’65 Malibu. It was 3:15 with the windows down in May.
And I was very, very happy.
All other highs the rest of my life can be judged in comparison to walking out my high school’s front door, heading to the parking lot and throwing my books into the back seat of my car. Start the engine, roll the windows down, put it in gear, and get the hell out of there.
Nothing like it.
I had that feeling nearly every day of the school year, but May, with its blooming trees, baseball games and girls, everywhere, hinted at would could be in that coming summer. It turned my nervous energy into a rolling boil. The bell rang. The lid came off the pot.
Yesterday, without warning, I was reminded of that feeling. The windows were down and something in the air, a chemical reaction, I guess, sent me back to a simple, pleasant thought.
I don’t have to go to school tomorrow.
I don’t have to go to school for the rest of the summer.
Thank you, personal search engine. Thank you. I did not ask to be taken back to May of my seventeenth year, but you thought I needed it. And I did.
I’m a middle-aged man. I don’t have to go to school ever again if I choose. Of course, being the age I am, I now have to go to the proctologist. Honestly, on days like yesterday, with the windows down, it’s a pretty good trade.