Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Memory Tricks


Have you ever noticed that people with the same memories remember them in different ways? It happens with my sibs and me. None of us fib about what we remember, we just don’t have perfect recall.

Go figure.

For instance, the time Omega came home from playing with her BFF. Sitting at the dinner table, she said, “Pass the d*** corn.” (Today her BFF is a beautiful, talented woman who loves the Lord with all her heart. She just mimicked her big brothers once in a while when she was too young to know better, and Amy mimicked her.)

I remember the D*** Corn episode happening in our kitchen. Omega believes it happened at Grandmother’s house (next door) in the dining room. Where did it really happen? Since she was maybe two years old, and I’m a few (clears throat) years older, I believe I’m right. But in all honesty, I’m not sure.

Remember the story I told about Brother Jeffrey killing the squirrel and hanging it as a trophy from the ceiling light fixture in the middle of his room? After he read my blog that day, he told me it wasn’t a squirrel. It was a rabbit. (He did shoot it through the eye, I think.)

I probably should have asked Sister Debbie. 🙂 I’ll bet she never forgets.

We aren’t the only siblings who have these problems. Sometimes Uncle Frank will tell me about something he did, and when I recount the story to Dad he says, “That wasn’t Frank. I did it.”

When Dad was eighteen, he went to Oklahoma A & M in Stillwater for a year. (Now known as Oklahoma Spess University–at least in my mind.) When he first started, he often hitchhiked back and forth to Old Ford on the weekends.

Granddad didn’t like Dad hitchhiking, so he bought him a car.

Uncle Frank remembers it as being Granddad’s car rather than my dad’s. Dad disagrees.

It doesn’t just happen to siblings, either. In our romance writers’ group, we used to have a blurb writing contest for our unpublished members. In one hundred words or less, we had to tell what your book is about–like on the back of a book.

One year I won that contest. The next year when we were discussing it, someone asked, “Who won it last year?”

Without blinking an eye, one of my critique partners answered, “I did.”


“You did?” I thought about it really hard before I went on. “Then why did I frame that certificate saying I did?”

The only thing I could figure is that she thought she should have won. 🙂

You hear on TV all the time how eye-witness accounts differ, and people are just amazed they can see the same thing differently. It really not surprising, is it? First they aren’t expecting anything to happen. Life is just going on as usual, then suddenly a wreck happens or a shooting or robbery.

Adrenalin hits the blood stream, hearts race, one person sees things one way, another sees them from a different POV. (Point of View.)

Three witnesses are interviewed, three different accounts.

Once, when we had the smaller pharmacy in Pryor Creek, we had a woman bring us a bad prescription (written on a stolen blank) for some Class II narcotics.

It was a very busy day and our tiny store was full of people. Earlier that day, a man had called, claiming to be a doctor out of T-Town. He told us he had a patient (told Gary the man’s name) in the final stages of cancer who was coming to stay near our town and he wondered if we had the medication the guy needed.

Not being in the medical business (and apparently not too bright) he made a couple of mistakes.

  1. Doctors don’t call pharmacies to make sure the med is in stock. They leave that between the patient and pharmacy.
  2. The doctor the man was pretending to be was an Ob/Gyn.
  3. Ob/Gyns don’t have men patients.
  4. Ob/Gyns don’t normally write Class II narcotics for their patients, because often they’re pregnant.

My man is very smart (he wouldn’t have to have been in this case, but he is) so he picked up on these things, and probably a couple more, and called the police. He told them what was happening.

POV #1 (Mine) When the woman got there with the script, she pulled up to the drive-through at the same time another woman we didn’t know walked inside the store. We figured one of the two had the bad script.

I went to Window Woman first, who, it turned out, was the one with the script. After I handed it to G-Man, I went into the hallway so no one could hear me and called the police. Next I went back so I could help Inside Woman, who we thought was a real customer.

As I walked past the drive-through window, Window Woman knocked on it. “Do you have the medication?”

My heart was pumping so hard, I could barely take a breath. “Yes, we do. It’ll be just a minute,” before the police get here. Of course, I didn’t say that last part outloud.

The cops came from several directions at once. While Window Woman screamed the four-letter S word over and over, our store kind of emptied out. Our regular customers stayed and watched, but the ones we didn’t recognize melted away.

When they went through Window Woman’s trunk, it was packed with clothes. No suitcases, no garbage bags, just layers and layers of clothes. Down toward the bottom, they pulled out a set of  small child’s clothes over what I thought was a square hanger. Instead, it was a picture of a man I’d seen in that crowd in the store.

POV #2: The women who worked for us hadn’t known what was going on until the police came. When one saw the man’s picture, and heard me say I’d seen him in the crowded store, she said, “I don’t know how you could have seen him. I waited on him this morning, while you were out getting your hair cut.”

She hadn’t seen him in the crowd at all, but I did.

POV #3: One of our regular customers had pulled in, riding a motorcycle, just before the police made their appearance. He was just getting off his motorcycle when they swooped in. He said that Window Woman and Inside Woman just looked at each other for a long moment when the police came. At that point, Window Woman then started yelling “S***! S***! S***!” to be sure the attention was focused on her while Inside Woman practically ran out the door.

So that’s how each person sees what’s happening a different way. They’re each in a slightly different place–emotionally as well as physically. That’s what makes comparing memories so much fun!

BTW: I’d love to talk to Window Woman and/or Inside Woman and hear the story from their POV. 🙂

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

2 thoughts on “Memory Tricks

  1. Judy also said it was your Daddy’s car. 🙂

I'm so glad you dropped by my Small Town World! Hope you'll leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you!

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