Friday, February 20, 2009

LIFE: Failing Memory Isn't New

As I get older, I notice my memory deteriorating. It's insidious and, thankfully, a slow process. I worry about Alzheimer's. But the one little thing that prevents me from completely freaking out, is that I've been drawing blanks at the memory banks since my late teens.

I was reading Earl Pomerantz's column today in which he describes a horrible lapse of memory when meeting a former colleague at a concert. It's funny and all-too close to home. My forgotten name story at least involved a stranger.

In the immediate post-days of my high school career, I ended up as a sports reporter. I still had strong ties back at the alma mater, Bramalea Secondary School. One of the first things I did was to organize a yearly basketball tournament at Bramalea, hooking local sponsors to donate trophies for the successful teams and for some individual awards. I got McDonald's to sponsor the MVP trophy. I also ended up doing the PA for all of the games, which ran all day Friday and Saturday. I was a little exhausted and a little mad by the time it came to do the trophy presentations.

Bramalea had won the tournament and Mark Fisher, a friend, had been spectacular in leading the Broncos to the title. That said, a kid from Oaville Blaylock had a pretty good tournament too. Tom Narbeshuber had been a scoring machine for them and I probably called his name out on the microphone a hundred times over the two days. If Fish hadn't had such a good tournament, he would have been a good choice as MVP. (Narbeshuber went on the university ball, playing on a good Victoria team that won the Canadian championship) As it was, the MVP committee, of which I was a member, voted Narbeshuber as MVP. The deciding vote was cast by a little weasel who coached Streetsville at the time. I won't even dignify him by naming him. But after watching Fish single-handedly destroy his team in the final, the weasel turned around and voted for Narbeshuber, justifying his vote as, "Because I can." Jerk.

So, minutes later, I had to stand at the scorer's table and do the announcing of the awards. I was still seething. It came time for the MVP award and all eyes were on Mark Fisher. Except mine. I was trying to figure out how I was going to explain the vote to Fish. Mechanically, I said, "And the winner of the McDonald's MVP is ... Tom..."

I couldn't remember Tom's last name.

Micro-seconds flashed by. Panic set in and grew. Finally, I turned around, motioned with my arm for Narbeshuber to come down and said, "Come on down," as if I was Bob Barker. The hooting and hollering for and against the pick allowed me cover to glance down at the scoresheets I still had in my hand. Suddenly, I was reading off Narbeshuber's scoring stats, trying publicly to give credence to the selection. In actuality, I was just relieved to have discovered his name on those sheets.

To this day, I have no idea whether anybody caught the mental fugue. I wasn't kidded by anybody, but then again, my memory wasn't something people kidded about back then. It was supposed to be pretty good.

And who'd have believed I would have forgotten a name I'd used more than 100 times over two days, anyway. Especially a name like Tom Narbeshuber.

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