Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Love is a buffalo: The persistence of silliness

If there were any logic to how my brain retained experiences I'd be able to recall almost everything I studied during my years in college but instead it seems to operate thusly:

In the mid-'80s, during my last year of high school, I got an after-school job that would turn into a near-full-time job that paid for the aforementioned college's tuition. There were a number of us in our late teens and early twenties working there and at times a few of us would sit around a table in the back room preparing product to go out, chatting and cracking jokes. We always had a radio playing, typically on the local rock station.

One day while Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield" played on the radio a co-worker, James, blurted out a parody chorus: "Love is a buffalo." He didn't even sing it; he just said it over Benatar's singing, and as I recall he only said it once during the song. It didn't turn into a running gag or anything. It was merely a glib substitution of one three-syllable word that starts with B for another three-syllable word starting with the same letter. It was amusing in the moment but I doubt even James himself would claim it was all that clever.

However, for reasons that defy explanation, to this day—nearly three decades later—whenever I hear "Love Is a Battlefield" (or merely hear someone mention it) my immediate reaction is to think of that moment of James making that quip. It precedes any other thoughts one could have—such as the dance in the video for the song. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that James himself doesn't even remember it, but somehow his impromptu lyrics became indelibly associated with the song. I think of that before I even recall any of the actual lyrics.

Perhaps the brain isn't made to retain years of education in detail but merely hold on to innocuous moments, and we merely like to believe it's the former on which it would focus.

Maybe the smartest thing the brain does is keep us from really understanding how it operates.

No comments:

Post a Comment

So, what do you think?