It’s December, and you’re wearing your parka inside the office until the HVAC guy figures out what’s wrong. You’re shivering, but you can’t tell if it’s because the heating is broken or you haven’t had a drink yet today. The HVAC guy is talking to his HVAC friend/co-worker/apprentice, and you wish he’d just hurry up and finish the job. He says something about how crazy Toronto was in the ‘80s. “Wild,” he says. He’s recalling this one time when he was at the Wheatsheaf, the city’s oldest bar. (It dates back to 1849 and is still there today, on the southwest corner of King and Bathurst not far from where you work.) “It was Wing and Jug Night,” he says, “and all of a sudden, a darn ‘roach falls right in my beer.” Well, he didn’t mind that because the waitress let him drink for free. But, later, the HVAC guy — who perhaps wasn’t yet an HVAC guy — put a plateful of bones on the floor and banged the wall. “A whole curtain of ‘roaches come down,” he says. You don’t really get the thing with the bones but whatever.
The HVAC guy has remembered this night for, like, 30 years — longer than you’ve been alive. And it’s clear he’ll remember it for the rest of his life.
Wing-and-Jug Night forever.
And it makes you think. You’ve been reading about computer memory, because after finally managing to track down online porn that was shot in the hotel opposite your office, you accidentally deleted the file and then discovered that the link had been taken down, too. You wanted to know if you could recover the file somehow and learned via an online forum that you might be able to — until other, newer files overwrite it, at least.
So now, still shivering at your desk, you wonder whether it might be better for human memory to function like the trash bin on your desktop computer. You could discard memories, but they’d remain undetected for a certain period of time, unable to harm you yet not quite gone. For a while, you’d be able to recover the things that you’d initially trashed. But you probably wouldn’t, you think. You’d just let the new memories overwrite the old.
You consider what you’d erase from the past week:
The Tinder date on Monday
The hangover on Tuesday
The hangover on Wednesday
The hangover on Thursday
The hangover on Friday
The hangover on Saturday
Josh Sherman is a cyber writer. His work has appeared in Back Patio Press, The Daily Drunk, Hobart, Misery Tourism, Okay Donkey, and others. You can read his collected online work at neutralspaces.co/josh_sherman/.