A woman’s ability to remember is only equalled by… oh heck, I forget

image It’s time for this week’s edition of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts involving my ex-wife. None of them have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. Though none of these posts will be mean-spirited or vindictive, I was someone doing his best to deal with an unhappy marriage through humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married (my friends are sick of hearing about it, actually) and constantly inspired to laugh for the right reasons.

Now we can laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

Thanks to an exciting discovery published by the National Academy of Sciences, we’re one step closer to understanding an important, fundamental difference between men and women — which is that women have better memories, particularly when it comes to remembering why they’re mad at their husbands.

This earth-shattering discovery was made by psychology professors at Stony Brook University in New York, the same university that brought us groundbreaking data on the yawning habits of the domesticated yak.

My point being that the “better memory = more time in dog house for men” equation is NOT new information, and ultimately dates back to the very first marital spat: When Eve accused Adam of being insensitive for suggesting she make ribs for dinner.

And today, things are pretty much the same.

For example, after reading last week’s column about how men are essentially better drivers than women because we use the opposite hemisphere of our brain, my wife is STILL mad at me. According to results published by the National Academy of Sciences, this is because memory function in women is highly complex, and includes a direct tie to the emotional center of the brain. By comparison, memory function in men is a lot simpler because, like most brain functions in men, everything is tied directly to the [censored].

This discovery was made through a series of tests involving the ability of men and women to recall details from highly evocative photographs, such as gravestones and people crying. In every case, women’s recollections were 10 to 15 percent better than men’s.

Not wanting to be out done, men in the test group offered their own impressive display of memory skills by recalling the bust size of every waitress at the local Hooters.

Researchers believe the reason women did better than men on the evocative-image test is because of something called “emotional memory,” which is the ability to associate personal feelings with memories.

[Note: Researchers believe the reason men did better on the Hooters test is because of something called “emotional mammary,” which is the ability to associate personal feelings with the bust line of a complete stranger.]

According to assistant professor Turhan Canli, “Emotional memory is the reason women tend to process things a lot more than men.”

Which is just a nice way of saying that if you accidentally recorded an NBA play-off game over your wedding video, don’t count on your wife forgetting about it anytime soon. Especially if YOU forget, and inadvertently watch the game while she’s home.

If that happens, I’d suggest apologizing, begging for forgiveness, and then taking her out to a nice dinner somewhere that’s not even remotely in the SAME HEMISPHERE as Hooters — which brings me to the point I’ve been trying to make all along, which is…

To be honest, I can’t remember where I was going with this, but I’m sure it’ll come — just as soon as my wife reminds me.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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76 thoughts on “A woman’s ability to remember is only equalled by… oh heck, I forget

  1. Is associating personal feelings with memories a bad thing for humor? I think so. If the writer uses stereotypes of male behavior, it will stimulate the Yawn response in more than Yaks.
    I think that women just don’t like stupid. “I get the jokes” …hohum.

    • Honestly, I can’t argue with you on this point, which I think illustrates the mindset I was in at the time. As I explain in my intro, this wasn’t a particularly happy period in my life, and I was using my writing as an escape. “Post Traumatic Sunday” is about revealing who I was a “humor” columnist then, compared to now — and what a difference time and happiness can make.

      I really do appreciate your point.

  2. LOL, thanks for the laugh! The research is correct you know, women never forget a single thing ……except perhaps why we walked into a room or where we may have left our keys.

    My poor husband, he is frequently subjected to things like, “do you remember in 1989 when we were standing in this same exact spot at 2 pm in the afternoon and you told me you hated meatballs? That’s why I never make meatballs!”

    We got memories like a freaking dinosaur, I tell ya. On the bright side, at least you know we’re listening.

    • LOL! I have to admit, my wife and I are both sentimental when it comes to what we choose to remember. I think we’ve both learned — and come to appreciate from the experience of our previous marriages — the value of memory loss when it comes to certain things. The date of when we first met? Oct. 28. Where did I tell her I loved her for the first time? Wildcat Covered Bridge on Nov. 9, 2006. When did she back into the parking sign? No clue;)

  3. Sometimes I wish I had a crappy memory for things like our wedding day. You see, my husband was not really up for a formal wedding, so we had a noon affair with lunch, and I tried to keep the guest list to about 30 people. Unfortunately, my mother’s mania caused the guest list to grow to about 65 (which truly isn’t that big). And with my husband being stressed out about the whole affair, as we left the reception, he turned to me and said, “You owe me.” Needless to say, we didn’t consummate the marriage for several days and I cried myself to sleep that night.

    • Wow. That hurts to read, for so many reasons. Marriage should never be about “owing” anything — it’s about giving. I can see why you’d wish to forget that, and why you never will 😦

  4. “When Eve accused Adam of being insensitive for suggesting she make ribs for dinner.”…brilliant, won’t forget that joke anytime soon, even though I’m a man and all of my brain is directly wired to my (censored)

  5. Hmmm, very thought provoking post Ned. In honor of the seriousness of this topic, I have temporarily changed my avatar to better express my humble understanding and my reverence for the female perspective. Oh, by the way, if you record over your wedding videos then proper procedure would be to: 1) immediately cover the labels with replacements marked “NBA playoff” and 2) make sure the playoff game is longer than the wedding videos such that no wedding video is remaining. If this is not possible, then cover remaining wedding video with another sports feature until end of recording. In this manner the wedding video effectively disappears from existence and and you can honestly say that you can no longer find your wife’s cherished video (which is not, technically a lie).

    • Paul, I am honored that you temporarily changed your avatar as a show of reverence for this topic. I also appreciate your sound and manly advice in regards to my VHS predicament. As they say, “honesty is the best policy,” especially when hiding your tracks to avoid your wife’s wrath.

        • Well, if you click on my avatar and view the large version, then you will see in the women’s section, a large yellow button on the lower right corner. Pushing this button changes a selected avatar’s rating to a “G” for family viewing. This button is yellow to remind of the danger of changing rating without carefully assessing the avatar’s image carefully. It is located in the “women’s” control panel because obviously they are the protectors of the family morality.

  6. I don’t think that test had anything to do with memory. Men simply don’t see the same things. A woman may notice the color of clothing or the cut of hair, a man will notice there was a woman and if she was attractive or not and maybe if there was beer, he will note what kind, if it was chilled, in a bottle, can or glass and how much head was on it.

  7. I actually have a terrible memory for anything. My husband and I joke about getting a “home stenographer” to keep the facts straight. 🙂

  8. I’m a lot older than you are hence the death fixation (don’t laugh, it is NOT a neurosis!). When I have a lucid moment I recall the times I have been particularly difficult and I force my husband to sit through an recitation where I list most (all would take too long) of my transgressions and ask him if he’ll remember them, if I die first, and if he’ll think I was a horrible wife. Thank Gawd for this post, now I know that he isn’t faking it when he says he doesn’t remember the awful weekend on Cape Cod and I can go to my grave in peace.

  9. In support of your friends who are sick of hearing about it:

    Happy loving couples make it look so easy
    Happy loving couples always talk so kind
    Until the time that I can do my dancing with a partner
    Those happy couples ain’t no friends of mine

    Joe Jackson

    Men have more reasons to forget than women do. That’s why evolution has blessed us with failing memories. What a curse it would be to remember everything. Ick factor x 10. No, thanks.

  10. Ha. Mammary memory only works at Hooters because there is not resturant equivalent for women. I think we need something Chaps ass and Slongs or something. My memory would far exceed any mammary memory.

  11. As always, you elicited a belly laugh from yours truly. Hubs and I were just talking about memory and how excellent my mine is…as long as it doesn’t involve anything important or worthwhile. I can tell you when my first kiss was (April 16, 1981) but, I have no idea what I was supposed to pick up at the grocery store for him (deodorant).
    It truly speaks to your theory on emotional memory. And, since your right about that, I’m sure you are also correct about the whole Hooter’s thing…although my man pleads the fifth on anything hooter’s related.
    All seriousness aside, it is amazing to compare your writing now to your writing then. Humor can definitely help a person through rough spots, but your humor now is even funnier now that it’s seasoned with joy. I always look forward to reading your stuff!

    • Michelle, without question, your memory of that first kiss far outweighs the importance of deoderant. And I’m sure your husband would agree (except maybe after he’s been working out). And thanks so much for what you said about noticing the joy in what I write now. The thought process that went with this piece is something that would never even cross my mind today. On the surface I was writing humor, but I think anyone who follows my stuff today can recognize there’s a tone of unhappiness beneath it all.

      Thanks for noticing 😉

  12. Hmm, this was true for us, but I’ve had some pretty big memory loss in recent years (MS). Now I’m pretty sure my husband sometimes rewrites certains things just to see if he can get away with it.

    Not that his is a whole lot better, and he recently did lose an argument about what year we got married. I must admit it was fun to see his smug grin slide off his chin after he pulled out the wedding guest book just to prove me wrong. Poor fellow, even though I have a brain full of holes, he still can’t win an argument!

    Now exscuse me while I go hide the car keys. By morning, I’ll be able to honestly tell him I have no clue where they are. 😉

  13. Here’s a head scratcher. How is it possible that I remember who CH (this guy I was very much into for YEARS), fooled around with than he did? I mean, I had to tell him the play-by-play of him and the girl (many years ago he was insensitive enough to tell me that, and being a woman I REMEMBER EVERYTHING).

  14. Haha…hey here’s a factoid about Hooters, I learned from someone who claims to be ‘in the know but who wishes to remain anonymous’ — if those girls can’t fit into size small or extra small, they don’t work there. This includes the little teeshirt. So, apparently push-up bras create that visual magic (optical illusion) that makes dining there a ‘mammarable’ time for you guys. 😉 Will you be able to remember this on your next trip to Hooters? Probably…so just don’t study or stare too hard, because no wife or girlfriend will believe you when you explain that you are ‘conducting a bit of research.’ 😛

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