Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

Unpleasant memory? There’s a pill for that...

11/27/2013 10:08 AM

11/27/2013 10:09 AM

An article in the December issue of Popular Science (a magazine, like The Economist, that people say they subscribe to as a status thing but I never actually see anyone reading) reports that scientists, those wacky guys, have developed a drug that can erase unwanted memories.

As someone who has lots of unwanted memories, I am in favor of this. Here are my top ten unwanted memories.

1. The thing that happened on the evening of November 22, 2004. Really, really bad.

2. The neighborhood children down the street in the green house in Marquette, Michigan from 1966. The one named “Mikey Moo Moo.” Seriously. That’s what they called him.

3. A certain tie I was wearing that caused a woman to pronounce it “bizarre.” I thought it was fine and continue to think that.

4. Meeting a man in 1980 at a party on a Winona, Minnesota houseboat who, while drunk, proceeded to tell me I was “boggin’.” Still not sure what he meant by “boggin,” but he was very adamant about it for a half hour.

5. A woman with part of her ear missing I met at a bar. Like, a lot of it. Maybe she forgot it.

6. The Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl, 1970-76.

7. An attempt at Christmas cookies that didn’t include shortening, in 2005.

8. The Fight Between Me and Tom Ford That I Almost Won In The Front Yard in 1970, But Then I Didn’t.

9. The time my brother almost shot out a kid’s eye with an “unloaded” BB gun.

10. Fort Smith, Arkansas.

We all have unpleasant memories. Those are just ten of mine, and I can assure I could write an entire book about them. The notion of a drug that can target a specific memory seems fantastical to me. I mean, how will that drug be able to differentiate between the very pleasant memory of sitting in my 1970 Ford Mustang with Julie under the Shoreview television towers and the very unpleasant memory of a fashion accident involving her choice of an orange striped cowl collar on that same evening? It can’t.

Let’s say, for fun, that these scientists could actually develop such a drug. Couldn’t that drug then lead to all sorts of abuses, like all other drugs? Could politicians then say, for example, that they truly have no recollection of the mistakes that were (they) made? Isn’t it possible that the use of the memory drug could lead to some very stupid television commercials?

“Ask your doctor if Fuggedaboutit is right for you. If you experience memory loss, tell your doctor immediately. Wait. You’re supposed to experience memory loss. What did you just say? Who are you again?”

What if the memory drug could be applied to entire populations of voters? For example, what if the entire U.S. Tea Party electorate had forgotten that Medicare and Social Security that they demand as a right was not a naturally occuring event, and was created by liberal do-gooders in Congress? Wait. That actually happened.

Besides, I want to know if memories are labelled in a big file cabinet in my head, and, if they are, can I just take a drug to organize them a bit better instead of eliminating them? Like, I know I have heard all of the information to correctly solve a quadratic equation, and yet, I can’t remember any of that. Wait. I remember 2 ac. I think. Something like that.

I forget.

Anyway, I hope this unpleasant memory drug works. I have a few more than the aforementioned ten bad memories.

I wonder just which scientists, in fact, came up with the drug?

I’ll bet it was those kids down the street in the green house in Marquette, Michigan.

I remember you, Mikey Moo Moo.

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.

 

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