Right up until the moment she fell victim to the illness, my wife sounded intelligently businesslike on the phone: ''Yes, you may tell him that he may return my call at 330-555 ... ''
She stopped. Dead silence.
Panic in her eyes, she clamped a hand over the phone and hissed, ''What's our phone number?''
I told her. Terry repeated the numbers and ended the call. ''I don't know how I forgot our phone number.''
I do. Crammed Cranium Syndrome.
Day after day, we pack more and more information into grooves of our gray matter until the synapses snap, crackle and pop.
Life is a giant yard sale of facts, figures and knowledge, and we're all hoarders.
Scientists claim that we use less than 10 percent of our brain. That may be so, but we jam-pack every available space with all the data a continuous assault on our senses provides.
Most of the gobbledy and gook up there proves useless in day-to-day life, such as remembering the circumference of a circle (you know, pi - 3.14159265 ... etc., etc., etc.).
That combination of your hall locker in eighth grade - the numbers have to be stored somewhere. The name of your pet snails - lower left quadrant of the cerebrum, beneath the lines of that stupid sonnet your English teach made you memorize.
But where do you look for the things you meant to remember but can't because of Crammed Cranium Syndrome?
That's right. Once your brain is full - which happens at about age 28 - it dumps enough information every night to make room for the coming day. All the things you need to remember leak out your ears and soak into the pillow case. They're washed away with the Tide. Or possibly whisked away with Cheer. Anyway, they're gone with the soap suds.
Do you remember rubbing your ear the last time you couldn't find your car in the parking lot? That was an emergency daytime dump, the tickle of memory oozing out.
Your brain isn't all that organized. It doesn't care what it tosses out just as long as something goes, even if it's the answer to why you just walked into this room.
So what can we do about Crammed Cranium Syndrome, outside of passing a federal law mandating everyone - including close personal family members - to wear name tags at all times?
I tried stuffing my ears with cotton once, but after four days, my head swelled like a pressure cooker. My boss yelled, ''Hey, Pooh, I always suspected your head was full of stuffing. Your brains are falling out your ears.''
When the cotton finally popped out, the drain was such that I?drove right past my house that night. I was too busy remembering that on March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single game by hitting 36 of 63 shots from the field and 28 of 32 from the free throw line. Plus he hauled in 25 rebounds.
These I remember. The numbers wedged themselves into my gray matter memory box. Why? They never come up in conversation.
Maybe I'll bring them up to, oh, What's-Her-Name, you know, my wife. She might be looking for something new to cram into her cranium.
----- Find Cole, if you remember, at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.