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"Remember that movie? You know, the one with the guy who looks like the guy who was in that TV show with the British girl except she didn't talk with a British accent? They were getting chased by that guy who was in the movie where he plays a lawyer who turns out to be a hit man or something, maybe a spy? We saw it on Netflix. Or maybe on demand. You know, that one ..."

No, obviously, I don't either. But that's not going to keep me from guessing wildly, getting frustrated because you can't turn that word salad into a box of movie popcorn, or finally staring off into space, blurting out vague movie-title-sounding phrases for the next two hours.

"To Catch a Thief?" "It Takes a Thief?" "My Mother the Thief?" "Game of Thieves?"

I remember things. Odd things. Things that have no meaning to anyone else in the world. Disconnected things I pick up like burs on your hiking socks (which, by the way, inspired Velcro. See, I can't help myself.).

And yet, there are moments when a brain runs dry, even one that stores useless information like rain barrels (which used to be illegal in Colorado: Until recently, you could legally smoke pot but not capture rain off the roof of your house. I don't make'em up, I just remember'em). And it's a terrible thing to witness. At least from my end.

It happened to me the other day. Asked about a movie title, I drew a blank (a saying that comes from the 1800s when acquiring a lottery ticket that wasn't a winner was referred to as "drawing a blank).

Clues included that the movie was about a teacher and started with "Con"-something. And it went downhill from there.

Having trouble remembering a movie title takes one of two forms: Either you remember plot details ("this guy getting chased by an airplane") or you remember all the actors ("Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray. And the snake, but you never really see the snake."), but you can't ... quite ... remember ... the ... name.

It quickly turns the movie title into the reverse of a song you can't get out of your head. As in, the film you can't get back in.

For most people, this is not that frustrating. Normal people who don't really dwell on the fact that "El Dorado," and "Rio Bravo" are actually the same movie, with Robert Mitchum playing the drunk sheriff in "El Dorado," Dean Martin playing him in "Rio Bravo" and John Wayne basically playing himself in both. Or that that exact conversation was held in "Get Shorty."

But when something as trivial as a movie name slips the mind of someone who has spent a lifetime acquiring pointless trivia (needless redundancy alert), well, you feel like Wild Bill Hickok sitting with your back to the room (holding "the dead man's hand," black eights and Aces.).

Most people wouldn't dwell on something like that for days. They wouldn't wander around, muttering vaguely and throwing off movie titles. They'd just fire up Google and be done with it.

And that, to someone of a trivial persuasion, would swing wildly between cheating and an existential crisis. Better to undergo hypnotism in hopes of capturing repressed movie titles than admit you know that Jon Voight starred in the film, but you don't know what it's called.

It is amazing what we decide is important, worth preserving, remembering and fretting over forgetting. But then, given the world in which we live, perhaps when given a choice between worrying about a nuclear North Korea and some film title, and realizing I can't do much about the former, I'll take stewing over the latter.

And then, just like that ... the movie was called "Conrack." It's from the book "The River Is Wide," by Pat Conroy, who also wrote "The Great Santini," "The Lords of Discipline" and "The Prince of Tides." Why they didn't just call the movie "The River is Wide" I don't know, particularly since the book was remade into a TV movie called, well, "The River Is Wide" a few years later.

Suddenly, the North Koreans may have nukes, but all is right with the world. And I can once again rest easy, knowing I know what I think I know.

Except ... about that movie with the snake ...

P.S. The movie with the snake was "We're No Angels." The snake's name was Adolphe. Don't even try me.

Commentary on 07/07/2017

Print Headline: Thanks for the memories

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