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Scraps: Where Are Cheezer’s Atoms?

A couple of people have mentioned in DMs that I’ve written about this before, but they can’t find it. I have indeed written about memories gone wrong, but it was a long time ago and if you’re interested, here are the four installments:

The Impersistence of Memory, Part 1

The Impersistence of Memory, Part 2

The Impersistence of Memory, Part 3

The Impersistence of Memory, Part 4

It’s an interesting series, and certainly related, but not exactly what I’m going after with Scraps. Scraps is about earworms, true, but actually a more general category that might be called “mindworms.” It’s things that you’ve long since forgotten that pop into your head for no discernable reason and with peculiar force, as though the action were somehow deliberate. I have a theory, which I’ll get to after a few examples.

At some point during the worst of the COVID craziness, a peculiar question entered my mind: Where is Cheezer now? The weird part isn’t that I remembered a childhood toy. It’s that I remembered wondering where the toy had gotten to, probably when I was in high school fifty-plus years ago.

Cheezer was a small diecast metal car of a sort that was common in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. They still exist, but (like so much else) are much fancier now than they were when I was a first-grader. The car’s name was “Cheezer” because he was the color of American cheese, of which we ate much in that era. My sister tells me that I had several other diecast cars, none of which I can bring to mind at all.

Again, the memory was a peculiar one: Some time probably fifty years ago, I went looking for Cheezer and couldn’t find him. He used to live in one of the two little drawers in a cherry-wood gate-leg table that was in our basement. He shared the drawer with some plastic toy dinosaurs and plastic Army men. I think the Army men were still in the drawer, but Cheezer was nowhere to be found.

I did some searching around the house but did not find poor Cheezer. He had some sentimental value, and I was a little annoyed at being unable to find him. And then a peculiar insight came to me: Cheezer might be lost, but he was somewhere. Or at least the atoms of which he was made were somewhere, because absent an atom-smasher, atoms are forever.

Don’t misread me here. The odd thing isn’t that I remembered a toy I probably hadn’t seen in sixty years. The odd thing is clearly remembering myself wondering where he was, right down to that nerdy insight about his atoms. Nothing triggered that memory. I marked it as silly but it kept coming back to me. Ok, COVID was a weird business that left a lot of people with a certain amount of mental turmoil. Maybe COVID was stirring some stagnant internal pot, and up popped an old and odd state of mind starring a toy car.

Except…the very same thing had happened before, more than once, and long before COVID. More here as time permits.

I’m guessing now that Cheezer was in a box somewhere that my mother threw away once it was clear that I would no longer be playing with diecast cars and plastic Army men. So he’s in a landfill somewhere, atoms and all.

One has to wonder if our brains are like landfills full of ancient states of mind, and every so often one jumps up and says, “Hi!”

Again, stay tuned.

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