Gary always wondered how long it would take before someone noticed that he couldn’t remember what happened from one day to the next. He worked hard at hiding it, and most of his tricks for coping worked well.
For instance, when someone said, “Remember the time…,” he would nod and reply, “oh yeah, I remember that.”
Or if they said, “I thought you said…,” he’d just slap his forehead and say, “duh, that’s right, what was I thinking?”
He learned that the best way to hide his disability was to joke about it. He had a bunch of one-liners that he used, such as, “I was the first one in line when they handed out brains, but I held the door open for everyone else,” or, “if brains were dynamite, I wouldn’t have enough to blow my nose.” Most people thought that he wasn’t very bright, but in fact, he was very smart. An IQ test would have shown that he was well above average, as long as it didn’t test for memory.
School had been a challenge for Gary, but he’d figured out how to get around his memory problem by completing his work as soon as the teacher assigned it. The problem was taking tests; he couldn’t remember what he had studied, and would be forced to guess at the answers. Most of his teachers thought he suffered from test anxiety, and since he always completed his assignments on time, felt that he earned passing grades.
Gary worked as a mechanic at a car dealership, which normally would have been difficult for someone with his disorder. But he was very adept at solving mechanical problems. He would diagnose the problem, determine what needed to be done, and then fix it, usually well before the other mechanics. Unfortunately, the next time he worked on a car with the same problem he didn’t remember the previous solution–it was always the first time. Another problem at work was that he didn’t remember people’s names. Luckily, the mechanics had their names sewn onto their uniforms, which he would glance at while talking to them. His boss and the people in sales didn’t wear nametags, so he usually just called everybody “sir,” or “buddy.”
Gary’s main difficulty was in relationships with girls. He was twenty-one years old and had rarely been able to get to a second date. Girls liked him; he was fun to be with. But they always got upset when they noticed that Gary never called them by name. It was always, “sweetie,” or “baby,” which at first seemed like a show of affection, but eventually was just weird. The day after a date with a girl, not remembering the evening, wouldn’t call her back. It was hard to develop a relationship like that.
He had recently met a girl who was different from anyone else he’d ever met. Carol was a waitress at the Golden Cup Café across the street from work, and Gary ate lunch there every day. Carol was very friendly and she didn’t seem to notice that when Gary came in for lunch he didn’t remember her name. She called everyone “hon,” and even seemed to like it when Gary called her “sweetie” in return. She always wrote her name on the bill after lunch, so Gary would look at it and say, “bye Carol, see you tomorrow,” and she would respond, “bye bye, hon.”
This went on for several weeks, until one day Gary asked Carol out on a date. It was Friday, after lunch, and when she handed him the check he looked at it and said, “hey Carol, would you like to go to the movies with me tonight?”
She smiled and said, “sure, Hon,” and wrote her address down on a napkin.
When Gary went to pick her up that night, she was sitting on her front porch, reading a book. She smiled as Gary walked up to her and said, “Hi Carol, are you ready to go to the movies?”
She just said, “Sure hon, just let me get my purse.”
He really enjoyed being with Carol. She was sweet, and probably the cutest girl he’d ever been out with. They had a lot of fun together, and they started going out most Friday nights. Every Monday Gary would go to the restaurant for lunch, and Carol would say, “Hi hon, what can I get you?” Gary wouldn’t remember her and would think, she’s cute, maybe I should ask her out, and then when Friday would come around he’d say, “Carol, would you like to go the movies with me tonight?”
Everything was fine until last night. They were headed back to Carol’s house after watching a movie, and Gary asked, “How long have you been working at the Golden Cup?”
Anyone else would have thought Carol’s reply strange, but it didn’t seem to bother Gary at all when Carol replied, “Today was my first day.”