If You Could Remember Every Single Thing, Would You?
2:13 PM EDT on August 17, 2021
Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about action sequences, the Delta variant, baseball team names, and more.
Oh hello there. I’ve returned from vacation. I do hope you took good care of the place while I was gone…
[sees a dirty fork left in the sink]
Oh. Oh dear. Oh, this is simply DREADFUL.
Anyway, let’s all give a round of applause to our guest hosts from the past two weeks: Alex Pareene and the team of Rajat Suresh and Jeremy Levick. I saw some of our older, more tight-assed readers complain about Rajat and Jeremy down in the comments on their post, and to those readers I’d like to say: Get your shit together.
Now … your letters!
Let’s say an injection was invented that gave you memory access to every experience you ever had since birth. The memories are in high-definition and exactly how events happened. Would you get it? Would you want the full catalogue of your entire life available to you in 4K? I don’t have enough traumatic, repressed shit to say no, but I also don’t want remember EXACTLY how I behaved in college and the drinking years afterward.
In my case I’m a diagnosed amnesiac (you probably know why), so having access to those vacated memories could prove traumatic but also invaluable given that, to this day, no one knows how or why I collapsed three years ago. I made peace long ago with that fact, but I’m not certain that all of my loved ones have. If I can get them some closure, I would.
But really, I’d get the injection for all the sex memories. That’s just common sense. I mean, I always had this fantasy that after you die you can go to heaven’s screening room and watch whatever parts of your life you liked best. Alone. With some hand lotion and a box of tissues nearby. So if you’re telling me that I can have that power NOW, instead of hoping I’ll get it in the afterlife when I know damn well I won’t? Fuck yeah, I’d take it. Unless I looked really fat during all that hardcore fucking.
I have a lot of shame and regrets in my current memory bank, and I’m sure having total recall would only dredge up more things to feel guilty about. HOWEVER, I’m very good at denial when I need to be, and I’m also very good at channel surfing. I know which periods of my life would be highly unpleasant to revisit, so I’d just avoid them and fast forward to the sex parts. And to my finest drunkest moments. I’d also revisit my early childhood (not that early) and make doe eyes at three-year-old Drew crying in his Speedo at the swim club. That would amuse me. Also I guess I’d think about my wedding day and the birth of my children.
Some people have this power. They remember literally everything they encounter. Now that’s a kick-ass party trick. If I ever met these people, I’d spend all night bombarding them with trivia questions before I got angry at them for being so smart. Same way I behave around Luis Paez-Pumar on Defector trivia nights. Because your memory is all you got. And if you have more memory, then you’re all the richer. Whenever I remember Guys, and old songs, and old character actors … whenever I find those little trinkets in the corners of my attic … I’m always delighted. OH MY GOD I JUST REMEMBERED THE ESCAPE CLUB HOLY SHIT! The Internet right now acts a collective cultural memory, which is incredibly fun so long as it’s not some fucking propeller beanie at The Ringer remembering shit at you. So if I could expand that knowledge base to my own personal history, I’d be grateful. Even the bad parts are important. You can learn from all of it. You can USE all of it. It’s a gift.
Alas, I’m stuck with the damaged mind I currently possess, and its recall powers are only going to wane as I age. Again, I’ve made peace with this. God damn Kirk Cousins for ruining that turn of phrase, but I mean it here as sincerely as I can. I’m at a higher risk for dementia than people who don’t have a Traumatic Brain Injury on their resume, and I worry about my loved ones having to tend to me again after they already exhausted so much time and energy doing so the first time around. But, on its own, I don’t fear the memory loss. I already have it. Unless you’re one of the gifted memory dorks, YOU already have it. But you have friends and family to remind you of what happened and to keep the story of your life and your experiences alive and vivid. Best of all, what you DO retain is still gold. And what you forget you forgive.
GQ writer Michael Paterniti profiled a bunch of century club members—people over 100—for a long story six years ago. Most of the 100s live in a perpetual fog, with only fragments of memory available to them. Their past lives are an abstraction. But what they have retained is shit only THEY know. No one else is alive to remember it, and they’ve crossed the Rubicon to being living artifacts of the past: people who invite fascination from everyone else. And they’re HAPPY. There’s actual research proving it.
So I’d like the superhuman memory, but I know that don’t really need it. I’m good either way. The sex stuff would be nice to keep though.
I think one of the most underrated advantages of working from home (for both the employee and the employer) is being able to use your own bathroom whenever and however you want. In a previous life, if I had to take a massive shit during a meeting, I would have to suck it back up into myself for 45 minutes, which can't be good for my bowels OR my productivity during the meeting. Now, all I have to do is hold a finger up and type "doorbell ringing!" into the Zoom chat, and away I can flow. I'm back three minutes later and ready to talk about all the synergy and optimization they want! Ideal for both parties!
I’m lucky in that I never had a desk job where I had to hold in an urgent dump in the middle of a meeting. Whenever I had to go, my bosses always let me. I know that’s not true if you work at Amazon, or if you work in a restaurant and the owner is a bastard (this is all restaurants), and it’s unjust. EVERYONE should be allowed to shit and piss when necessary. Now, did I use bathrooms breaks as a way of avoiding tedious bullshit on occasion? Yes. Does that matter? No. Fuck you. I need Drew Time in order to be more alert and productive. Again, there is research behind this. I will not link to it, because I’m currently taking a snack break.
Anyway, the pandemic blew apart the idea that people need to be at the office to be really useful engines. So if your boss gave you the side eye when you excused yourself from in-person meetings in the past for a paltry five minutes to do your business, that boss can go suck a running exhaust pipe. Same with Zoom meetings, obviously. Here at Defector, no one blinks if I skip out of the Zoom window for a few minutes to tend to oncoming rectal emergencies. Half the people in our weekly meeting have the video off anyway, and I know damn well they’re just playing iPhone games while no one is watching, just as I do when I turn my Zoom camera off. That’s your right as a worker and, contrary to what Darren Rovell may think, it has absolutely no impact on the bottom line. We’re not fucking kids. We’re professionals. Grown-ass adults know how to get their work done. They don’t need a fucking bathroom monitor.
The Cleveland baseball team just announced they will change their name to the Cleveland Guardians. Does Guardians sound too MAGA, Proud Boys, etc. Or is it just me?
It’s just you. I’m like everyone else in that when I heard the news, I was like, that’s lame as shit. But then I learned the nickname has some semblance of local color to it, in the most Cleveland possible way, and then I remembered that I thought “Washington Nationals” was a stupid name too before shrugging and going on with my life. It’s not as if Cleveland's old name was a vital part of that life to begin with. I’ll get used to them being the Guardians two months into their first season with that name, same as I did with the Nats. Easier to remember than Los Angeles Chargers, for example.
Also, I already know that the WFT will absolutely adopt a far worse nickname that will somehow have fascist undertones to it: Washington Troopers, Washington Protectors, Washington Ethnic Cleansers, etc. Cleveland Guardians is nothing compared to what’s coming. I lived through the birth of the Houston Texans and the rebranding of the Washington Bullets as the Wizards. I know exactly how imaginative these owners are.
Today, I walked out of the grocery store and saw a couple of 11- or 12-year-old boys hanging around the exit in their baseball uniforms. The jerseys were red, with "Reapers" across the chest in black. I flashed back to a few years ago when the hotel I worked at hosted a few youth baseball teams in town for a tournament. There were more than a few team names with sinister/violent/militaristic connotations. One even had camo uniforms. I don't have kids, so what's the deal? Is this a new thing in youth sports generally? Is it specific to baseball?
I have no idea, but Reapers is a fucking badass name for a youth team and now I’m angry the Cleveland Guardians didn’t spring for that name instead. If I were on the Reapers, I’d cherish every moment of it. I’d wear skull makeup during games. My music coming out of the bullpen would be Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats. I’d ask the manager for a dugout smoke machine. The more EVIL, the better.
Because my kids’ youth sports team have never had names that cool. They’re either named after pro teams (Dolphins for my youngest one’s flag football team) or they got the players together to name themselves before the season and they picked Karate Guys or some other shit. The Sleepy Hollow high school football team is named the Horsemen and they’re led out onto the field BY a headless horseman. Look at this photo of that tradition in action. Fucking look at it. BAD. ASS. No one said that only the annoying people get to have a monopoly on cool violent shit. The Horsemen are for everyone.
Why does every security guard in downtown San Francisco look like he’s right out of Call of Duty?
I’m glad you asked that, John, because I’m a professional Bay Area Knower now. The wealth disparity is so pronounced in San Francisco that every rich person who spends all day reinventing the bus at work also spends all night reinventing 1980s suburban mom angst. They flip the fuck out about homelessness, bad parking etiquette, open drug use (unless they’re the ones using), and CRIME. So much crime. When I was growing up, basically every PSA was VIOLENT STREET GANGS ARE COMING TO STEAL YOUR KIDS AND MOLEST YOUR CAR. You can afford to indulge all of those delusions when you make John-Hughes-character money. So that’s what every Amy and Jared in San Francisco now fears, and that’s why the entrance to the local Safeway is flanked by maximally armed Operation Underground Railroad members.
This’ll happen elsewhere, if it hasn’t already. Twenty years from now, every wealthy neighborhood will have its main drag patrolled by stout dudes in camo gear and big-ass rifles who look like the security detail at Charles de Gaulle airport. My wife needs to feel SAFE when she goes bargain-hunting at Filene’s Basement.
My wife and I got married before the pandemic but our honeymoon to Italy got canceled last summer. We're trying to get in a COVID-safe honeymoon before we rewrite our lives with kids. We're looking at Iceland because it’s so low in Delta variant threat. But I don't know anything about Iceland except:
1) Any prejudices I learned from D2: The Mighty Ducks
2) They have the most beautiful women in the world for Vikings reasons (non-Minnesota category)
That's it. Have you been to Iceland and what should we be doing while we're there?
FYI, if you never hear from me again, it's because I made eye contact with Icelandic women and, appropriately, my wife gave me a Viking funeral.
I have never been to Iceland but my boss Tom Ley says that Iceland is THE place to be if you’re young and cool and active, and that everyone should go!
In all seriousness, if I were you I’d go to Italy, the way you originally intended. As of this writing, the EU is considering re-instituting travel restrictions on Americans flying in, so you still may have to wait a little longer than you and your wife would like. But whenever you get the all-clear, just fucking go. That’s what I’m gonna do when my youngest son is allowed to be vaccinated. We were gonna go to Paris in the spring of 2020. You better fucking believe I’m making good on that trip in 2022.
The only reason I fear the Delta variant right now is because of the 9-year-old. But once he gets his jab (FDA approval is reportedly due sometime before the New Year), fuck that shit. My family did its duty. I’ll still wear a mask wherever I’m told to do so, because I don’t wanna spread the disease and because and I don’t particularly want to be laid down by COVID for days at a time. But every legitimate report out there has noted (usually 12 paragraphs in), if you’re vaccinated, the odds of you dying or even being hospitalized by any strain of COVID are basically nonexistent.
So do what you like. Go to Italy. Go to concerts (I’m going to two in September; proof of vaccination or a negative test result is required for admission). Eat out. Be free. And join me and my family for a stroll along the Champs-Élysées next spring. Because we’re fucking going.
My wife and I made the decision to only have our one child. I’m curious how the parents of multiple children see parents that only have one. Do you chuckle at how they still struggle with the single child? Is there judgement involved, that we decided to raise a kid with no siblings? Is there jealousy? Do you get nostalgic for the period of your life when you only had one? I’m hoping parents of only children get *some* kind of credit that I’m not aware of from other parents.
The old Bill Cosby joke (FULL DISCLOSURE: Bill Cosby is a serial rapist) is that if you only have one kid and there’s something broken in the house, you know who did it. And I myself know, through firsthand experience, that having one child is easier than having more than one. But I didn’t know that WHEN I only had one child. When we just had our daughter, it still felt like the fucking hardest thing we’d ever done. Nowadays, my wife and I will watch our three kids screaming at each other and be like, “Remember when we only had one of these jackasses? And we COMPLAINED?” And then we quietly duck out of the house and let the three of them murder each other.
So yeah, I play the wily veteran card on occasion and treat power trio families like they’re the junior varsity. But again, just one kid is a real pain in the ass. And plenty of couples only have one kid because they CAN’T have more than that, know what I mean? Ain’t like they didn’t try. I try to remember that.
Also, one of the things you gotta learn as a parent is to ignore other people judging your parenting, because they come at you in droves—no matter how many kids you got—and they’re all annoying. It can take years for you to tune them out and reassure yourself that you’re actually doing a good job. But you’ll get there. Fuck ‘em.
Can we get a ranking of the most annoying type of fans in sports? Always think about this when I have to hear the dude (and it's always a dude) yell, "get in the hole" anytime someone putts. You're not cool, bro.
Okay but complaints about “get in the hole” guy are almost as old as yelling “get in the hole” itself is. It’s just part of the deal with golf. Same with diving in soccer. You’re basically announcing yourself as a rookie to the sport when you point that shit out. Besides, these days I’d bet that 80% of bros yelling GET IN THE HOLE are doing it specifically to be annoying. They get loaded, they scream the line, and then they snicker while the rest of the gallery openly groans at them. We love it when every single American suffers from acute irony poisoning, do we not?
Have you seen Another Year, the Mike Leigh movie? It's the best new old movie I've seen in as long as I can remember, and would be interested to hear your take. That is, if you 'get' it.
I probably won’t. I’ve seen one Mike Leigh movie, and that was Secrets & Lies, which was nominated for a shitload of Oscars and featured a family of British white trash screaming at each other for two-plus hours. Secrets & Lies is one of those movies I appreciated as being well-made while also never, ever, wanting to watch it again. If I got it, I didn’t want to. I watched the first half of Topsy-Turvy (also a Leigh movie) and it gave me the exact same feeling. So you’d have to work hard to get me to go back to that well.
The irony here is that I’ve been on a huge old movie tear. This year marks the first time I ever saw Citizen Kane, the Ridley Scott cut of Blade Runner, Butch Cassidy, The Killing, Barry Lyndon, and a bunch of other shit. Last week Pareene wrote here that serious adult drama has essentially been relegated to television, where showrunners break apart stories that should only be two hours long and stretch them out over the course of multiple, painful seasons. It’s not an ideal situation, and it’s why most prestige TV is overrated.
But the good news, at least for me, is that Movies Still Exist, and the back catalog of them is incredibly robust. I have a lot of classics I still haven’t seen, but that’s not a point of pride for me. It means that, any time I want, I can set aside two hours and treat myself to a fucking masterpiece if I feel like it. I don’t have to commit dozens of hours of my life to a show. I don’t have to worry the movie will suck because it almost certainly won’t. It’s as close to a lock as entertainment gets. I have a running list of movies I still have to check out, and it includes shit like Nashville, Blow Out, Near Dark, Brazil, and MacGruber. I’m not gonna put off watching any of those. I’d be an idiot to.
But any Mike Leigh movie is still a lot to ask of me. Lemme complete the full Guy Ritchie catalog first, because he’s more my speed.
What's the worst type of action sequence in movies? The shaky-cam one-on-one fight? The big CGI battle where it's basically a really good cartoon at that point? My vote is the car chase. The first time I saw a car use the E-brake to make a sharp turn down a narrow alley, drive up/down some stairs, and then dodge traffic on the wrong side of the road it was impressive, but now I wish I had a chase scene timer so I know if I have time for a bathroom or snack break before the hero crawls out of a flipped over car.
The true hallmark of a bad action sequence is if I, the viewer, can’t understand what’s going on. Way too many directors think that the action is cool if everything is moving really fucking fast. Meanwhile, one of my favorite action sequences of all time is one where the cars are going three miles an hour.
That scene was directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who would only go on to stage bigger and better action spectacles with the past two Mission: Impossible movies. McQuarrie knows that speed isn’t as important as fundamentally good staging, using real locations, and making sure the characters HURT. I know that last part is an absurd thing to say about Ethan Hunt, but compared to your average PG-13 action hero, Ethan Hunt is more fragile than an antique lamp. The reason every guy my age worships Die Hard is because that movie made sure that whenever John McClane bled, it counted. Why no movie since has bothered to remember that selling point is beyond me.
Like you I got a vasectomy a while back and like you I had complications (I remember their advice was to take a bath and my balls floated to the top of the water like two giant buoys). Six years later, however, I had a third child. Apparently there’s a 1/6,000 chance that this happens. 1/6,000 seems kind of high, no? Would you fly on an airplane if it had a 1/6,000 chance of crashing? What other activities become totally changed if the odds for disaster are the same as a vasectomy reversal? Be gentle. You are answering the email of a man whose had his testicles shredded “for funsies.”
Actually, the odds are actually closer to 1/1,000 that your vasectomy will fail. Those numbers are a little sticky though: based off of surveys over a decade old, etc. Also, most vasectomies that fail do so within the first year after the procedure, so Peter’s situation here represents a big fat anomaly. All I know is that if you had told me these odds before my own vasectomy, I still would have gotten it. In fact, I’m certain I was told those odds before I got snipped. I didn’t give a shit and I still don’t. I don’t even care that my balls exploded. My kid count stayed at three and now I can watch old movies anytime I please. Too many people focus on the “1” part of any set of odds. OH MY GOD THIS GLASS IS MISSING A SINGLE DROP OF WATER!
With that in mind… here’s your Email of the week!
Reader Sam recently wrote in to ask about what it's like to go from two kids to three and I'm sure he's heard people say, "Now you're playing zone defense!" with a hearty chuckle. It's bullshit. A colleague told me years ago that you don't play zone defense. Instead, you continue to play man-to-man and, at all times, one kid or another is wide open dunking all over you. Or maybe you're playing zone but it's the equivalent of a pickup team deciding to switch to zone with no practice. I have no question here, I'm just continuing my war against that stupid quip. Fuck those hearty chuckles.
Tough but fair.