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Bud, my husband and I, laughed out loud because Bill Bryson’s confessions in his book "I’m a Stranger Here Myself" reminded us of our own absentmindedness. Neither of us can leave the house to go somewhere without returning two or three times for things we’d forgotten.
Photo by Bonnie Gehling
Bill Bryson shares some hilarious stories about his somewhat inept memory in his book "I’m a Stranger Here Myself." Bud, my husband and I could relate. Bryson said his family suggested some labels suitable for him, "Caution: When Door Says ‘Pull’ It’s Absolutely No Use Pushing" and "Warning: Do Not Attempt to Remove Sweater Over Head While Walking Among Chairs and Tables." His favorite was "Caution: Ensure That Shirt Buttons Are in Correct Holes Before Leaving the House."
We laughed out loud because Bryson’s confessions reminded us of our own absentmindedness. Neither of us can leave the house to go somewhere without returning two or three times for things we’d forgotten. Sometimes Bud will reappear 10 minutes later and say, "When I got to I-75 I remembered I needed the cooler." We both marvel at some of our serene friends who leave home without saying at some point, "Stop the car. I think I left the iron on."
We also enjoyed Bryson’s story about buying pipe tobacco and mailing some letters. Without thinking he deposited the tobacco in the mailbox. He said it took him awhile before he realized he’d not made a 100 percent correct execution. He thought that since most products have caution labels and 24-hour hotlines maybe mailboxes could carry the sign "Not for Deposit of Tobacco or Other Personal Items."
Some of our other escapades came to mind. A friend asked me for some Italian Dressing while eating lunch at our home. I absentmindedly picked up a small plastic bottle on the kitchen counter and gave it to her. Bud, with a grin a mile wide, pointed and asked, "What’s this? I looked down to find I was holding a small plastic bottle with yellow liquid dish detergent. We all had a good laugh.
On another occasion Bud accidentally turned on the rearview windshield wiper of a car we borrowed from our sister-in-law. He fiddled with the car’s many knobs and gears but the wiper stayed on. My attempts to help also failed. A neighbor showed Bud how to turn off the wiper. However, the wiper started up again a few moments later. Bud again could not turn it off. The neighbor kindly gave Bud a second lesson. This time the training was a success.
Bryson has a similar story that made Bud feel better. When Bryson told his son he’d been asked to give the commencement speech at his son’s school graduation. His son replied, "You? Dad, you don’t even know how to turn off the back windshield wiper on the car." Bryson wrote, "And it’s a fair point…and I probably never will. He goes on to say I have learned a thing or two since I graduated from high school…that the best way to determine if a pen will leak is to stick it in the pocket of your best pants. That it is seldom a good idea to take clothing off over your head while riding a bicycle. And I learned that nearly all small animals want to bit me…so I feel I have acquired a kind of wisdom—the kind that comes from doing foolish things over and over again until it hurts so much you stop. It’s not the most efficient way of acquiring knowledge, but at least it works and it does give you some interesting scars to show at parties." Which reminds me…while I was on vacation in Costa Rica the tour guide warned me to stay away from a cute little monkey. Yep…I got bitten. Would you like to see the great scar I have on my arm?