Why are repressed memories repressed to begin with?
Well…I suppose that if we knew the answer to that, there wouldn’t be any repressed memories at all.
There will be a point to this, I promise. Not right up front, but more towards the back end. Please be patient, and allow me to set a scene for you.
The summer of ’69, as Mr. Adams would say; although mine was not nearly as intriguing, and would never stand as backdrop for a smash radio hit of the ’80′s. I was to spend the summer painting houses with my dad; housepainting was a secondary income for him.
He had decided to attempt to infuse me with something resembling an actual work ethic; my days as a lump of shiftless protoplasm were apparently numbered. ( For those among you who know me well… please insert crass and sarcastic comment here. )
So…here’s the scene. A spectacularly beautiful early summer morning in Seekonk, Massachusetts. We were painting the exterior of a very impressively large Victorian on the banks of the Seekonk Reservoir. Dad was painting the peak, having used two precariously placed ladders to get there. I was on a lower level, about ten feet off the ground, painting in and around some kitchen windows that had a very ornately carved outer housing. I was charged with the task of painting the housing without getting paint all over the windows.
That was not working out very well. Protoplasm generally does not respond to requests, even the strident ones.
But finally, after several hours…it was accomplished, and there was only one spot left to paint; the eaves underneath the housing itself. I had left that for the very last, because protoplasm will always hold out the forlorn hope that someone will come along and do the sticky bits for them at the last minute.
I had been instructed to clean out the eaves before painting; and as any blob of teenaged protoplasm would, I completely ignored that order. I thought that I would rather paint under the eaves so heavily that Dad would never notice that they had not been cleaned at all. This was a very highly advanced train of logic for protoplasm.
So…I went up the ladder with more paint. I smugly jammed a full brushful into the underside of the housing, gloating to myself about the lesson in work ethic that I would show him.
And was met with a furious attack from a huge brown spider, with a torso roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. ( And yes, that is an accurate scaling of the dinosaur’s torso. If I had recounted this story to you say, even ten years ago, he would have been volley-ball sized; ten years previous, basketball-sized. Allow some small credit where it is due.)
Apparently, when under duress, blobs of protoplasm have been known to emit high- pitched girlish shreiks in the barely audible range of almost 20khz, purely as a defense mechanism. And also to levitate up and down ladders, knocking paint cans out of the way as need be.
Paint was everywhere; my spiffy bell-bottoms had been seriously compromised. ( Yes, with paint, thank you. Mostly.)
And as I got up off the ground…there was Dad. Hearing the 20khz shreiking, he had apparently utilized his far superior abilities of levitation.
Dad was not a terribly well-adjusted camper just then. There was more paint on the windows than I had actually gotten on the house all day. He was rather vocal in his observations, in that ‘ex-Navy WWII vet’ way of his. I was not aware that the lineage of my birth had ever been in question.
I pleaded my case, to no effect. The beast should just as well have been the size of a basketball.
Dad was up the ladder in a flash; against my extraordinarily high-pitched objections, he reached into the basketball’s lair.
He grabbed hold of it, bare-handed; came two rungs down the ladder, and pitched it over the stockade fence into the adjacent realm.
I will always recall the image of a paint-sodden arachnid flying into space, forever etched against the perfect June sky.
I spent several days cleaning paint from those windows. Even less fun than painting, if one can imagine.
And now…why did all this suddenly become un-repressed?
Because early this morning…as I rose for work…the background music in my head abruptly changed tracks.
As I mentioned the other day, word of Levon Helm’s passing had caused ” Daniel and the Sacred Harp” to start playing in my head. This morning, it suddenly changed over to ” Across the Great Divide”, which in turn has led to the entire ” Band” album ( also known as the ‘brown’ album) playing non-stop in its place. This is actually quite pleasant, and not nearly as borderline scizophrenic as it sounds.
And now, the overall point, as earlier promised;
I spent that Summer of the Arachnid with that Band album playing in my head, too. I had committed it entirely to memory, after playing it through easily a dozen times a day.
So the entire incident occurred, as did everything else that summer, with a backing soundtrack. The hateful beast is forever aligned with oil-based grey housepaint, deep parental resentment, gorgeous summer mornings, and the Band. A convoluted series of dots, but there it is.
When the ‘brown’ album runs its course, I hope it switches over to ‘ Stage Fright‘ next. There’s some great stuff on that one. Highly recommended, but be careful; these songs all have a tendency to stick.
Oh, and along the way… I did manage to aquire a respectable work ethic. Thanks, Dad…but I still couldn’t manage the spider-throwing trick.