Memories can be wrong. That isn't necessarily scary

Famous Dutch comedian and intellectual Wim de Bie once wrote a story about a memory he had that proved to have been completely and utterly false. It had been very vivid for many years and he had often told the anecdote about it at parties. It was about little Wim de Bie in 1944 and how he was reading a comic book when the Germans came for his father. But it wasn't true, which he learned much later.

He writes:
"De ontgoocheling kwam even later, bij het doorbladeren van het boekje. Voorin las ik namelijk deze zin: Tekko Taks werd vanaf 1946 gepubliceerd in het dagblad Trouw en in diverse dagbladen in binnen- en buitenland.

Mijn geheugen had al die tijd gelogen. Ik heb nooit een strip zitten bekijken tijdens de razzia van 22 november 1944. We hadden toen zelfs helemaal geen krant in huis. Waarom heeft mijn geheugen die spannende gebeurtenis twee jaar later gekoppeld aan dat ene stripplaatje? Het enige dat ik kan bedenken is het woord onderduiken. Veel mannen bij ons in de straat doken vlak voor de razzia onder. Mijn vader niet. Tekko Taks wel. Die dook onder in zijn badkuip."

You don't have to know any Dutch to see 1946 and 1944. He'd always claimed he'd been reading in 1944 which he couldn't have, because it had only been published in 1946. At our house we call that a Tekko Taks Memory, because it involves comic book character Tekko Taks.

Not to long ago I was having a beer with a friend, who casually referred to a football match we had once seen: FC Utrecht - Barcelona. Dutch legend Johan Cruyff was Barcelona's manager at the time. My friend remembered me eating a lot of sausages, or as he put it: "jij liep alsmaar worsten te vreten". Though that definitely sounds like me, there was a problem: I couldn't remember a thing, not even the worsten. I asked him whether that was the same year we went to see Feyenoord in De Kuip. "We never saw Feyenoord in De Kuip", he said. But we did. He had received free tickets (don't know where, don't know when) and we went. I remembered that much, but even I didn't remember who the opponent was.

The other night I was reminiscing with a very old (in the sense that we've know each other for a very long time) and very dear friend of mine. One has to do that, every now and then, to keep memories from fading or getting distorted. Turns out we were a little too late. A lot of fading and distorting had been going on. Seems some twenty years ago I was a little more of a miserable bastard than I would have given myself credit for, but on the other hand she was off two years on the exact time of the bastarding. I of course didn't remember me doing anything wrong at all, but I knew that, though I had to concede it might have taken place (of course it did. But I'm much nicer now. Honestly) it couldn't have been when she said.

We should have left it at that, but we didn't, because we both could prove it. My prove won. And now she's scared, because she can't trust her memory anymore. I wish I were that young (I'm about twice her age, if I remember correctly). The first time I learned the fickle tricks of memory was before I was twenty years old. Or twenty-five. Someone asked me my age and I didn't know. Luckily I remembered the day I was born (or at least the date my parents had given me, which is good enough), so I could calculate the answer. I still do it. And I'm seldomly wrong by more than two years.

27-6-2017 06.03 | Door: Arnold Kuijk | Rubriek(en): Memory

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