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I spent a lot of yesterday ransacking the dilapidated mansion of my memory, hunting through room after undusted room, turning over bits and pieces, bric and brac, flotsam and jetsam, mental lumber from early childhood all the way to late breaking news -- but I could not come up with the object of my search, the name on the tip of my tongue. Elvis Costello. Sure it's easy now. He's right there where I can see him. Elvis Costello. You're probably wondering how I could forget him for a minute, let alone all day. I dunno, but I did. I simply could not come up with the name. I could remember the glasses and the knock-kneed stance and the voice and a bunch of other things but not the name. The closest I came was Mickey Rooney and -- you know -- that's not very close. Come on, I said. You know the guy. Whatshisname. I did other stuff yesterday too. I do have a life. It wasn't all whatshisname all the time. But I kept coming back to him. In the middle of answering email I'd think: whathisname again? Frowning over a manuscript. Reading. Washing dishes. Driving kids. Whatshisname? No google. That'd be like looking at your neighbor's test paper when you know the answer yourself. Because I did know the answer. Whatshisname. A much more interesting question is why? Not why the passing obsession but why Elvis Costello? He's a cool guy all right, but not a giant headliner and not important to me. Maybe that's the answer. If he mattered more I'd remember his name. But there are a whole lot of unimportant (to me) mid-grade newsmakers I can call up at the drop of a fork. Condalisa Rice for instance. There she is, anytime I want her. Tommy Douglas. Pia Zadora. Mark Messier. Hey, there's Mickey Rooney again. I got millions of them. Why not Elvis? I dunno. Some names get lost. They just do. A while ago I spent the longest time trying to remember Keith Jarrett. I mean, the guy's on my i-pod but I couldn't think of his name. Grrr. When I finally did turn him up (he was behind the couch in my memory's living room) I wanted to make sure I didn't forget him again, and came up with a mnemonic based on a public school with his initials backwards (Jesse Ketchum in Toronto, on whose baseball diamond I cost my team a city championship -- a story for another day). Every now and then I'll think of Keith and nod in satisfaction. Still got it. You're shaking your head, aren't you? I don't blame you. I really should let this stuff go. After all, I may lose Elvis, but I'll always have Condalisa.


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