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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Today At The Ballfield ...

I was on my way home from work and my phone kept vibrating. I think it had buzzed three times in about 20 minutes. I wasn't expecting any "important" calls but, of course, I was curious as to who was trying to contact me for doggedly. I'm a firm believer that operating a cell phone while driving is a sure-fire recipe for disaster and higher insurance premiums, so I jumped off the main roads and pulled into a small public park to check my cell log.

The weather was lovely so I shut off my trusty Chevy and rolled down the windows to enjoy the strong-yet-pleasant breeze. While I was absorbed in operating the so-tiny screen on my dinosaur of a cellular device, my concentration was shattered as a strong, slightly metallic "THUNK" rolled through the air immediately followed by a round of muddled hoots and hollers.

My head jerked up to see if I could visualize the source of the sound, but it only took my mind a millisecond to process the fact that it could be nothing else but a softball making contact with an aluminum bat. And in the following few beats of my heart I was swallowed by just about every memory of playing Little League, going to Indians games in Cleveland, weekend softball games at cookouts, and watching my oldest niece knock the snot out of just about any pitch thrown at her during her award-winning high school softball career. It was really a powerful little mental jolt.

And then to my delight, my nostrils flared at the smell of popcorn coming from the concessions area just behind the bleachers. Which triggered more mnemonic gems ranging from movie experiences and college all-nighters to street fairs and Die Hard marathons with my action-junkie nephew!!

We talk of iconic images so much ... things like the American flag ... and we go gaga for Gaga and other high-status celebrities ... but is there such a thing as "iconic sounds" or "iconic smells?" To me, an icon is something that has nearly universal recognition. The smell of lilacs, for instance, brings up intense feelings and memories for me since it was my mother's favorite scent and flower. But to millions of others, it represents nothing more than a familiar fragrance.

I would love to hear readers' thoughts ... give me some examples of iconic sensory items.

POINT OF RANT: I'm just happy that my quick stop at the ballpark didn't injure me or my vehicle ... in the past six weeks both the hood of my Malibu and the side of my noggin have took serious hits from a softball!

1 comment:

  1. I think there are such memory triggers. Smells, especially! I'm at a loss for a good example right now, but there definitely are smells that bring back memories. For me, I find that they're among the strongest memory triggers, often connected to things in ways I didn't realize until the reminding smell hit me.