Last week my mother, who is now retired and as a result finally has time to go through her closets, presented me with a large box of photographs from my teen years that I had apparently abandoned there when I moved out. Looking through them was an eye-opening experience, similar to what I imagine it must have been like for Nick Nolte when he first opened the paper and saw his mugshot.
Mostly, I was struck by how many of the events in these pictures were completely foreign to me now. Have I actually gotten so old that there are huge swaths of my almost-adult life that have disappeared completely from my memory? After all, it wasn’t that long ago, no matter what my bushy mane of ’80s hair and my seemingly slavish devotion to vertical stripes (in colors that disappeared forever during the grunge era) would seem to indicate.
But sure enough, there I was participating in activities I had no recollection of whatsoever. For instance:
• Whooping it up with the high school Celtic Society. I was in the Celtic Society? Since I’m not the least bit Irish, this must have either been to pad my resume for college applications, or because of my almost unhealthy fascination with U2.
• Participating in some sort of field day event that involved a tug of war. It looked vaguely familiar, but if there wasn’t a picture of it I would have just assumed I was remembering an episode of “Battle of the Network Stars.” I kept scanning the line of tuggers for Robert Conrad.
• Standing next to a life-sized cardboard cutout of Ronald Reagan. At least I think it was cardboard — if it actually was Reagan then I’m going to assume my memory was actually erased by the CIA.