Published June 1, 2010

You attend a family barbecue

Eight o'clock
"Yikes, almost eight!"

You wake up and get the news that there is to be a family barbecue at your uncle Gary’s at 4:30. On account of your memory loss, you decide that it would be a good idea to snoop around on Facebook to reacquaint yourself with the faces of your family members. Foods, you figure, will be easier to recognize. After a little bit of practice, your confidence is back. Realizing that this is the perfect opportunity to show off your BBQ apron, you look through your closet. After a few minutes of searching, it occurs to you that you threw the BBQ apron away.

The embarrassment of having to talk about your memory loss with your family is overwhelming. You become nervous. You decide to rehearse a story about how you’ve occupied the past two weeks: a story that doesn’t have amnesia, nudity, police chases, mysterious packages or swear words. Something safe for work.

“Well,” you begin, like most stories that sound made-up. “No, that’s too obvious,” you think. “I have been studying the effects of point source pollutants on unconfined aquifers in a little town in Pennsylvania.”

“Perfect,” you say to yourself, “a drearily dull alibi that won’t lead to further conversation, but does suggest a few obvious follow-up questions: ‘What little town in Pennsylvania?’ and ‘Is that near Philadelphia?’ “Munson,” you’ll answer and, “No, it’s a little ways North West of Harrisburg.” Sounds like an air tight story.

So you arrive exactly at 4:30 as you are accustomed to and wait for the other guests to arrive. After everyone shows up, you eat. The food is good, and you delight your family with tales from your recent geological excursion. However, your story is so tedious that it gradually becomes dubious. You back yourself into a corner, lavishing details upon your family about the porosity of the soil. You glance at your watch, thank your family for the meal, and make up an excuse.

You decide to: