Last night, my husband and I were sitting at our fire-pit drinking wine, talking about how people eventually get what’s coming to them. And he said, “That reminds me of a poem I memorized by A.E. Housman.”
He memorized it in high school without being assigned to do so. “I just liked the poem.”
Well, I too memorized poems and Shakespearean monologues when I was young. I got an A on the hardest exam I ever took – 10th grade English, when we had to identify a long list of obscure quotations and say what texts they came from, which author, and why important. I was in multiple plays. I only missed a line once, but in that play, I was actually Head of Costumes, and only because I had memorized most of the lines in Annie Get Your Gun, I was a last-minute understudy.
But I no longer remember any of it. That monologue by Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream? Nope. My favorite quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald? I’ll have to check the book that I used to keep by my bed. The really hard-to-memorize …ugh… what was the name of that poem… Canterbury Tales. Nope.
I only remember one line, “It’s like the ladies’ restroom at the Oriental Theater.” From Auntie Mame. I was the nanny.
Meanwhile, my husband, the science guy, sitting at the fire-pit at least thirty years later, recited – almost flawlessly and without pause – the second half of Housman’s Terence, This is Stupid Stuff.
And I felt stupid.
So, inspired by my husband with the memory of an elephant, I pulled out my – yes, I kept it – 10th grade Norton’s Anthology, and today, I’m going to re-memorize an old favorite.
Hopefully, it stays in my head long enough to recite it around the fire-pit.