Kate likes to talk about the first time we met, which is a great memory for her. And I’ve never brought up the subject before, but it wasn’t the first time.
Actually, we had met a few months before the date she has in mind, and we saw each other two or four or six times after that. It didn’t make much of an impression on Kate, apparently, so what she remembers as the first time is simply the first time she noticed me.
I never correct her about it, as I can’t remember much about the first time or the second or the third, either. Besides, all of us are like Kate, just a bit. We notice the things we notice, when we notice them, and we might miss something a dozen times before it suddenly invades our consciousness as a big NEW revelation.
I’ve never made that mistake before, I’ll say, only to learn that I do it all the time. You didn’t tell me Jane’s uncle died, I’ll observe, reflecting both my poor memory and limited empathy for Jane.
Back when I was a newspaper reporter, people sometimes assumed I was really good at remembering stuff, because I was a trained observer. Except, of course, that I had never actually been trained as an observer or taught any memory skills to make me a better journalist. Like everyone else, I noticed what I noticed and the things I missed were simply nonexistent until, and unless, I noticed them later. Sadly, for my readers, any gaps in my awareness quickly became gaps in their insights, as well.
I had the chance to test out my memory skills once when Jill and I were having a, um, difference of opinion. A somewhat loud difference of opinion. It concerned a discussion with the neighbors on the prior evening and there was no doubt Jill was absolutely mistaken. Even better, I could prove it, because I had been so enamored of the conversation that I set up the tripod and the video camera and decided to save for posterity the witty and friendly debate.
(Yeah, okay, I have this issue about saving things for posterity and it seemed like a good idea to capture our neighborhood interchange. It’s not exactly normal, but it doesn’t make me an axe murderer, either.)
Anyway, as they say in sports, we went to the tape and, AHAH!!!, Jill was absolutely wrong in her recollection.
Unfortunately, so was I.
Each of us was absolutely certain of what had happened and each of us was absolutely off target. I didn’t say what she thought I’d said and I wasn’t nearly as witty and charming as I recalled, either. As a result, I am much less insistent today about the infallible nature of my internal DVR.
So here’s the deal: I won’t confront Kate about her big, huge, insulting, inattentive, rude mistake. Her memory is flawed, after all, and I will forgive her. In return, none of you will be allowed to point out my gaps, either, knowing that your own recollection about me is inaccurate, especially when it’s negative.
Sounds quite fair to me.