I Think, Therefore I…

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

February 17, 2019

The mind is a curious thing. Here I am assuming that you, dear reader, have one and your head is not full of sawdust like several people I know, which is remarkable since the lumber mills closed down in Orillia in the early 1900s. So where did it all come from? Although I’m not really talking about your mind, but what’s left of my own, so what is rattling around inside your bean right now has no bearing on whatever I am blathering on about.

What started this rambling dissertation on the mysteries of the mind was a song. No, not some senseless drivel that passes for music in this the final decade of the planet (or will be if Trump is in power much longer). I was humming away to the old standard Chattanooga Choo-Choo for no particular reason other than it drives Mary crazy when another set of words came to me, ‘Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat that ate your new shoes’?

Where in hell did those lyrics come from? The words fit the song perfectly, but they weren’t mine. Maybe someone sang it in a parody a half-century ago and it just echoed around the empty corridors inside my head until this morning.

I remember the strangest things but never when I need them, like the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle business that got Pythagoras into the history books but never made him a dime – or me either. So much I learned, or tried to learn, in school I never got around to using. I know I can measure the height of a tree with his theory, but I find it is much easier to wait until it has fallen down. And what happens to your theory if the tree has a slant in it. Mr. Smart-ass Pythagoras?

Archimedes Principle of flotation is in there also. (You will recall Archie discovered it while in the bathtub and ran naked down the main street of Syracuse shouting “Eureka! I have found it.”) From what I read later, Mrs. Archimedes was heard to say, ‘Damn! I wish he had lost it for good. Guess I better grind up another rhinoceros horn before bedtime.

I remember some words I learned in Grade 11 French but not all. I found out much to my chagrin that merde does not mean thank you and the lady who owned le magasin washed my mouth out with ‘salon’ (turned out she was Italian and couldn’t speak French either.)

I remember the price of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in Dominion Store on the main street of Orillia in 1954 (2/29 cents) although I’ve heard it has gone up since then. On the other hand, this morning I talked to a neighbour for twenty minutes and couldn’t remember his name. I guess it really doesn’t matter since as he moved on he called back, “See you around, Fred.”

Lately I can’t watch an old TV movie on AMC without my cell phone in case Mary and I need to know the name of the old geezer playing the part of the butler. (It was Sir John Gielgud and the movie was Arthur.) I got an e-mail from Rogers asking me to lay off the voice search app. The lady on the other end of the line is sick and tired of talking to me.

I remember my aunt’s phone number in Toronto 70 years ago. (Howard 0488, but don’t bother to call she’s never home) I know the family dog’s name when we lived on Mortimer Avenue in Easy York but I can’t tell you since it’s one of the security questions to get into my bank account which is really no problem since there is never any money in it.

I can’t use my iPad because I lost my Apple password and the nearest store is in Newmarket. The last time I was there even the customers laughed at me – although it may have been because the bum was out of my pants. I sneaked out before Mary inspected me. When I did know the password I tried to use it in the Dominican Republic to get my email but Rogers said it wouldn’t be connected until I apologised to the cell phone lady. I called her and she started to cry.

I remember the lyrics to hundreds of songs unless I really have to know them. When I was in Man of La Mancha I could never learn the words to The Impossible Dream and when the rest of the cast was reaching the unreachable star I was still fighting the unbeatable foe. We did the show nine times and I never got it right once.

Now that I think about it, why did the cat eat his new shoes?

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