There I was, lying in bed, panting and really not thinking about movies, or anything else like that, and suddenly a line from the film, “The Hours” popped into my head when an actor whose name I could not remember said something like, “We thought that time was the beginning of happiness but looking back I see now it was happiness” and could not remember her name, but let’s face it; if you’re in bed happy and panting there are many things that will slip past your attention. The human mind is supercharged at that point and the moment is all that counts.
Later I was trying to remember the actor’s name and suddenly I realized I could remember half a dozen movies she had starred in. Drag out your mental stopwatch and see how long it takes you to tag her name with these titles; “Silkwood”, “Sophie’s Choice”, “Out of Africa”, “A Cry in the Dark” and some movie with Steve Martin that I do not remember the name to even now. Odd, isn’t it? I could remember Kurt Russell and Cher being in “Silkwood” and Steve Martin in the other movie, but that woman’s name escaped me entirely.
I vowed not to ask or search for the name but instead concentrated on the process by which I would conjure the name from my memory. I ran through the list of movies and who played in them, and that worked to bring forth other memories of things that had happened, and other co-stars, but not the name. Oddly, I didn’t remember Nicole Kidman’s name right off the bat but it surfaced very soon. Julianne Moore’s name escaped me for a longer time but then it popped up like a cork held under water released. But the other woman’s name stayed in the blackness, just on the very verge of recovery, yet unseen.
Do you write? Are you a poet? Perhaps you paint, or draw or create something with your mind. Have you ever had an idea lurking about on the edges, unformed and undefined, yet somehow real? This is how it felt trying to recover the name, and I believe trying to recover the name actually makes it worse. I think the human mind, lacking anything real to grasp, invents things to fill in the gaps. The name “Sophia” kept popping up. The bathrobe scene kept popping up. The window scene with Richard kept coming to mind, too, as well as that ridiculous scene from “The River Wild” where she claims she cannot run this river or some such.
It’s a trap of sorts. Trying to use your mind to remember something you have forgotten is like trying to draw water out of paper by setting it on fire. Creativity and memory are two very different animals; one flies and one burrows. No matter how hard you try to remember you’re sabotaging your own efforts. I vowed to fight the good fight and not ask and not look her name up.
The next morning she wasn’t there but the question remained the same. I could see her face, hear her voice, and oddly, I felt like I knew what her name felt like. I could feel the name. I could sense it. I knew how many syllables it had and how it was accented. Everything was clear and perfect to me, except of course, the name herself. I felt like her name was flashing on a billboard behind my field of vision and I was seeing the shadow on the clouds above.
So how important is this? Do you remember her name or are you right there with me? You do realize you’re screwed if you can’t remember by now, don’t you? There isn’t a device in memory that allows recall that doesn’t surface in the first few seconds. I mean you just have to wait or use Google or sit there with some other lost soul and both of you will look at one another as if you’re both idiots because you both know you know but neither of you can come up with her name.
You do it all the time and you know it. Names get lost in the mental mail as if they’re third class packages and maybe they are. Maybe who someone is can’t be as important as what they’ve done. Can you imagine being able to recall Jodi Foster’s name and not remember that movie where she’s a FBI trainee who locks brains with a serial killer? What’s it like to be able to remember names and nothing that person ever did? Oh yeah, Neil Armstrong that name just popped out of nowhere and wasn’t he a sports figure or a high jumper or something?
We remember verbs and forget nouns.
I started trying to go through the alphabet and list names that started with every letter. Talk about a distraction! Start listing names like that and suddenly you remember Anna and the King with Jodi Foster and that reference to that movie leads to another with her in it. It gets worse when you get to the letter “I” and all you can come up with is ‘Ivy” then you remember Ingrid and damn, way back when she was really a great actor and suddenly you’re pinballing the straight hell out of every name that comes up.
Then she was there.
I had gotten seriously distracted with the letter “I” because of the Ingrid thing and out of the blue the first and last name was there all along, like ruby slippers with three Oscars and some seriously bad movies.
Are you there yet?
Seriously, can you remember her name? I can’t help you and you ought not accept it because that’s just wrong at this point and you know it. You have to figure this thing out alone or not at all. Surrender not to Google or some woman who can speak the dialog of “Out of Africa” between sobs.
Wretched waste of film, that movie, but not everyone agrees with me.