So last night during a family dinner of meaty spaghetti and non-alcoholic fizzy beverages I found out that when I was five years old my parents had to burn a tick out of my right ear. First of all, these are the types of things we talk about around the Hamilton Family dinner table, things like ticks and the nesting rituals of flying cockroaches and how much Granny misses her once outrageous sex life. A meal that goes by without discussion of Aunt Lola’s most recent bowel movement is sadly incomplete. Secondly, I don’t ever remember having a tick lodged in my right ear, and you’d think that I would remember something as involved as my mother shoving a burning match into a delicate orifice mere centimeters from my brain.
Why can’t I remember this traumatic blip in my personal history? There are plenty of totally inane details about the house I lived in at the age of five that I can remember with eerie clarity, like the leopard-print round bed I shared with my sister or where I used to bury Cheetos in the backyard, but I can’t for the life of me conjure up that motherfucking tick.
And so I’m wondering what else I’ve selectively blocked out of my memory, how many years of things that have happened to me that I just can’t remember. And I wonder if these selectively blocked memories are responsible for my irrational fear of ticks and other bugs with no measurable conscience. If I could tap into this stash of discarded memories maybe I could overcome the hysteria I experience at the mere mention of things like tornados and opossums and brocade tapestries. God how I hate brocade.
Sometimes I can visualize shadows from my past, shadows of people and shadows of fingers headed toward my ear, shadows of Donny Osmond Barbie naked in my sister’s Barbie Corvette. There’s this one distinct memory I have of shadows wherein my brother is lip-syncing “Sweet Child of Mine” into a baseball bat while I daydream about having Axl Rose’s heavy metal babies, and don’t I wish I could selectively forget that little lapse in my forward trajectory.
Wouldn’t it be great if history as a whole could selectively forget its blemishes? Like what if we could all just forget that Matthew McConaughey even existed, or that George W. Bush ever once opened his mouth? That would be great.