Thursday, April 24, 2014

My favorite new super power

I’ll be filling in for Marilu Henner again tomorrow on her nationally syndicated radio show. (You can hear it here.)  Marilu has this almost freakish ability to remember every day of her life in detail. I’ve tested her. She's the real deal.   I’ll pick a day out of the past – say the day my son was born – and she’ll instantly say, “That was a Tuesday. Election Day.” And then she’ll rattle off who was elected that day. (This was maybe a month ago and I’ve already forgotten who those election winners were.)

It’s called Supeior Autobiographical Memory, and it’s a legitimate thing. I know because 60 MINUTES once did a piece on it. (That’s how we determine legitimacy these days. INSIDE EDITION – I’m still iffy, 60 MINUTES – must be real, anything on FOX NEWS – not true.)

In the 60 MINUTES piece they found a number of people who have this skill/super power. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of ten of them identified (at least in the United States). They were all given MRI’s and it was determined that a specific portion of their brains was larger. In the case of the guys, their penises were bigger. (Okay, that was a joke but I just couldn’t resist.) But studying this phenomenon might unlock some of the mysteries of improving everyone’s memory or reversing Alzheimer’s Disease.

I asked Marilu the obvious questions. Is this ability a blessing or a curse? Can you still lose your keys? She said it was a blessing, like having her own private Google search engine. All of the other SAM people agreed. Except one. For her it was a curse because every bad or sad thing that ever occurred in her life never left her. Imagine being able to replay exactly how you felt when you were dumped, humiliated at work, or a loved one died? The expression “time heals all wounds” doesn’t apply.

But the others deal with that by putting the bad events in perspective and realizing they are surrounded by many good days. They can relive those too. The euphoria of first love, landing that big job, seeing VOLUNTEERS for the first time.

Leave it to television to take this fascinating skill and turn it into a goofy procedural (UNFORGETTABLE… original working title: THE REMEMBERER). “Wait a minute. He couldn’t be a Vegan. On Wednesday, August 3rd, 1976 I was on a nature hike with my church group and he jumped out of the bushes, killed Lenny Masterson, and started eating him.” “God, you’re amazing. How do you even remember that?”

Can you picture someone with this skill who is a habitual poster on Facebook? Throwback Thursday. “On March 18, 1983 I woke up at 7:15, put on my blue blouse that I got for my birthday on July 24, 1980 from my friend Marcy who hasn’t called since Sunday, November 4th, 2003, and had a bowl of Cheerios and milk that expired on March 21st. Then I took the 56 bus into town, arriving at…” You get the idea.  UN-friend. 

I personally think this would be a cool super power to have… until…

you got old.

Just imagine, being on your deathbed, knowing you only have a few precious moments left. You think back on your life. On September 16, 2014 you spent the whole afternoon reading through Ken Levine’s blog archives, on February 26th, 1998 you waited in line for two hours to see TITANIC, on April 16, 2016 you binge-watched every episode of UNFORGETTABLE. On June 8th, 2020 you went to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

The moral here is simple.  Get out and make this a day worth remembering.

18 comments:

RockGolf said...

Would you mind asking Ms Henner if her memory extends to scripts? Can she still remember verbatim every scene she was in in Taxi or Evening Shade? Was she able to read the script once and know it cold? (That would be a major advantage in rehearsals or auditions, I'd bet.)

Also, why did she pick the day man landed on the moon to lose her virginity?

Bill Jones said...

Great post. But save the political jabs, not because they're political, but because they're hacky and predictable.

Corey said...

Love you too....but that doesn't count as a birthday card!

Tim W. said...

Bill Jones,

Are you referring to the Fox News comment? That's not political. That's simply a fact about a news organization that is the least accurate compared to every other major cable news outlet. Criticizing them, isn't hacky or predictable. It's necessary.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken, I have to agrees with Bill Jones. Those political jabs are predictable and hacky. They are beneath your talent. It would be like ending every punchline with a Hellen Keller joke or a joke about Paris Hilton.

Btw, 60 Minutes has done false reporting just recently and fired a producer for it. And didn't they air the Dan Rather doctored report back in '04? They are a false god. There is no true straight news anymore. The media has failed us.

thomas tucker said...

Hm. On your deathbed, would you still be able to relive your life in the blink of an eye? Maybe this would stave off th moment of death?

Todd Everett said...

"60 Minutes" lost me (not even counting Benghazi) when they totally fell for Amazon's delivery by drone story.

Dave in NYC said...

Have you and Marilu ever thought of or talked about making a show based on this premise--the woman who never forgets? You could even make it self-referential, the two of you traveling back in time as contemporaries in the television industry during the 70s and 80s, reliving choice moments and perhaps improving on them. Sort of like QUANTUM LEAP meets THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW.

Johnny Walker said...

@RockGolf Apparently the whole cast of TAXI was great at taking pages at the last minute and performing them infront of an audience. I guess one of the reasons such things went so smoothly was Henner's ability...!

It'd be interesting to know if she really can recall every bit of dialogue from every scene she's done.

Also, her complete recollection of the Tony Clifton incident on Season 1 of TAXI would be very interesting, too!

Lou H. said...

I know someone who has memory like this. She even remembers things from the time she was too young to talk. She once mentioned how frustrating it was to want food that was beyond her reach at the kitchen table and have no way to express it other than waving a hand.

DrBOP said...

I always appreciated Nick Lowe's reverse one-liner.....

"time wounds all heels."

Anonymous said...

60 Minutes just reran this story Sunday, but the didn't cover a basic question. Like RockGolf, I want to know what this ability covers. Can she simply remember what she lived through or can she remember everything that hits her frontal lobe? Can she read Hamlet once and recite every line? Can she card count? The CBS story never was clear.

scottmc said...

A possible Friday question. My daughter has recently discovered 'Monk'. She loves Tony Shaloub. (He is currently appearing on Broadway as 'George S.Kaufman' in an adaptation of the book 'Act One'.) Were you a fan of 'Monk'? What was your experience working with him on 'Wings'?

donnie said...

All of us (who were around then) can remember where we were when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. Marilou's memory of that event is better than most...

Pat Reeder said...

I don't know what's so special about never forgetting anything. From my experience of having been married twice, I assumed that no woman on Earth ever forgets anything.

Richard Bachman said...

I guess if Marilu ever got to the end of a pre-recorded show and discovered there'd been a recording problem -- she literally could do the whole thing over?

mickey said...

forgetting can be good. A lyric from John Prine: "There were all these things that I don't think I remember...How lucky can one man get."

Kosmo13 said...

Is this really connected to SAM:

For her it was a curse because every bad or sad thing that ever occurred in her life never left her. Imagine being able to replay exactly how you felt when you were dumped, humiliated at work, or a loved one died? The expression “time heals all wounds” doesn’t apply.

I know I don't possess Super Autobiographical Memory as described in the articles on it. "Being able to replay.." those sort of emotions / events you describe ('moments frozen in time' as I call them), however, was something I thought we all do.