Monday 26 Sep 2016

Memories
Matt Seinberg

Sight, liquefaction, audition, gustation, haptics are five of our many senses that help define us, as individuals.

If anyone of those are missing or don't work properly are we considered defective? Some would say yes. Others shrug it off and make the rest of the senses work harder.

All it takes is one little thing to trigger something big in our minds. That big piece of gray matter we call a brain is a truly remarkable device. Most of the time it works, but oh boy, when it doesn't look out.

One of my triggers is audition or, more simply, sound. It doesn't always have to be a song on the radio. It may emanate from my MP3 player or any electronic device I own and I have many.

Certain songs bring back memories; some good memories, some bad. I had a girlfriend, in high school, who loved the English rock group "Queen." I enjoyed the music, of "Queen," I wasn't fanatical about them. Ruth, my high school girlfriend, was a "Queen" fanatic; all she talked about was that band. Every time I hear something by Queen, I think about Ruth.

"Magic Man," by "Heart," is another trigger. Not only is that how I got my nickname Magic Matt, but the song relates to another of my high school girlfriend. We made out to that song. Whenever I hear "Magic Man," I think of Harriet.

Thanks to a friend, I found her on MySpace, about 4 years ago. She is long married with kids, and refused to acknowledge we ever did anything back in the day. That's all right. I know what happened.

Olfaction or smell is more powerful. I was at a 21st birthday party for a friend, held at the Playboy Club in New York City, in 1979. One of the bunnies, that's what the servers were called, was so hot I could not take my eyes off her. She smelled wonderful. I asked what perfume she was wearing. It was "Halston." It smelled like vanilla and almonds. I'm thinking to myself, I wonder if it tastes as good as it smells. Would she let me find out: no, not a chance.

A few weeks later, I'm in a class, and I smell this perfume again. I look around the room hoping to find that bunny again; no such luck. The girl in front of me was wearing Halston and all I could think about at that moment was kissing the back of her neck, hoping she wouldn't slug me.

I didn't do it. I did approach her after class and ask her if was Halston. She said yes. I asked her out. She said no. A big fat no; not now, not ever, but thanks for asking. Dejected, I crawl slowly away shamed and humiliated. That didn't last long.

The eyes are a window onto the soul. I truly believe that's true. I especially love green eyes. I'm a freshman in college. I spot Nanci, in my first History class. Nanci spelled with an "i," not a "y." Nanci has green eyes, and she's a sophomore, an older woman. She was a year older than I was and more experienced, at least I hoped.

To me, green eyes are hypnotic, sexy and alluring. So I approached Nanci, introduced myself, and asked her out. She said yes, and I'm doing the internal dance of joy. Did I mention she was also blond? And built like a bunny?

We go out a couple of times, and the eyes are drawing me in. I could get lost in them for a long time, and try to explain to Nanci my fascination with her eyes. She says she understands, but I don't think she really does. We make out some more and forget about it.

Nanci didn't last long. We didn't have a whole lot in common, and all I wanted to do was make out. She actually wanted to study before, or after making out. It didn't matter. I was smarter than she was and she didn't like that.

I should mention my wife Marcy has green eyes. My daughter Michelle has blue eyes, and my other daughter Melissa has dark brown eyes, just like her dad. I'm a lucky guy.

Gustation, our sense of taste, is interesting, if usually overwhelmed by olfaction or scent. People claim to taste colors when they eat certain foods. This is dysgeusia, a persistent abnormal ability to taste, affecting a small percentage of any population; its cause is largely unknown.

Can you tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi? I can. My cousin, Jamie, works for Fuze, a division of Coca Cola. Her husband, Cliff, was a lifelong Pepsi drinker because his father worked for Pepsi. That makes for interesting conversations around the dinner table.

Haptics is the sensation we experience when touching any surface, such as skin, fur or marble. What do you like to touch? One of my favorite things is my cat, Daphne. She loves me to pet her soft fur. I also love what I call the "kitty fur smell." If you are allergic, don't try this unless you have an Epi Pen handy. If I could bottle it, cat lovers everywhere would buy it. Cat owners are special breed unto themselves.

Now before you think I've gone totally off my rocker, there are other things nice to touch. The soft skin of the one you love, be it a wife or husband, or your new baby. Babies loved to be gently touched, and the soft cooing you hear makes up for the attitude you get when they get older and actually talk and make your life a living hell.

What started this whole thing was the family seeing "Mary Poppins," on Broadway. A floodgate of memories opened up, overwhelming all my senses at one time. I think of my late grandmother, Dorothy, who took me to see the movie when I was a kid. She also took to me Radio City Music Hall to see the original Dr. Doolittle, with Rex Harrison and bought me a program. I wish I still had that.

Neuro-science offers basic reasons for these triggers. The important point is these sensory triggers are mine, my memories, and I don't want to lose even one. This is what will keep me going when I am old and gray. Geez, I hope not.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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