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The One That Got Away On Memory and Forgetting Nancy McCabe "T-A on't you remember this?" Dad keeps singsonging as we trudge along J_-/the pavement at Silver DoUar City. "You used to watch this waterwheel for hours." Dad claims that when I was little, we often visited this Ozark theme park, this tourist trap. As the wheel cuts through the water in its lazy revolution, I feel no flicker of interest, no stir of memory. How could I have watched this for hours and retained nothing ofit? I want to beUeve that ifsomething matters, it cuts an impression in our brains, that at least it leaves a few wrinkles like the windblown surface of water before me. I want to believe that even ifI don't remember the waterwheel, it's the reason I find, say, hot baths comforting, or Cheerios at midnight. We hike up steep incfines, then chase our feet down them, passing cabins that house woodcarvers, glassblowers, and spinners. "Do you stfll Uke the big cookies?" Dad asks. "You used to love the big cookies." I look at him blankly. He's enjoying this, wielding the power ofteUing me who I used to be. He owns a past I have forgotten, and I'm starting to feel resentful that he has the advantage, that I can't rack my brain into recaUing. "Remember the cave?" Dad says. "We must have gone through it half a dozen times." He smües. He looks smug, on this day two years before he wiU temporarily lose his own memory, two years before a stranger wfll disrupt mine. It bugs me that I can't remember the cave. That summer day, as the sun flashes and heat steams off the pavement, I shiver a little. I am briefly spooked by what might be stored in my brain that I can't remember. Were the cave's recesses what gave my mind ideas for creating its own hiding places, I wonder, for swaUowing things up in darkness? a 144 Nancy McCabe145 My parents bought a lake house in the Ozarks nine years ago, but I rarely visited before now, now that I have moved to Springfield, which is 45 minutes away. Mom and Dad are eager to show me the sights, catching me up on what I've missed. They take me to the Dinky Diner, a restaurant near Reed's SpringJunction that serves tiny hotdogs, tiny tacos, and tiny chicken legs. My parents buy me and my little brother tickets to the Shoji Tabuchi Show, where a Japanese fiddler performs for an audience decked out in pastel polyester and haloes ofpermed hair. My little brother, one section ofhair spiked, one straightened, one frosted, skuU earrings dangling from his triplepierced ear, relates to me his fantasy that Def Leppard wiU leap onto the stage with electric guitars. Depending on whether the number is fast or slow, women in sparkling evening gowns or checked square dance dresses flit around Shoji Tabuchi, singing backup. During the show's frenzy of changing colors and flashing lights, applause scatters across the theater. The clapping gathers force when waterfalls suddenly come to gushing fife at climactic moments in the music, or when Ughts reinforce plaintive or celebratory notes by dimming, brightening , or rapidly sldmrning the stage; or when performers end a patriotic song by suddenly creating a formation that makes aU their costumes fit together Uke a big American flag. On Highway 76, traffic comes to a standstill, and the air is sweet with funnel cake and cotton candy. There's never a burned-out bulb in signs for gocarts and bumper cars and miniature golf courses and water parks and 3-D movies, or for the Elvis-A-Rama, a 100-foot mural depicting scenes from Elvis s Ufe. Signs for hotels and restaurants and country music theaters throb with Ughts and sparkle with sequins: The Baldknobbers HiUbflly Jamboree, the Foggy River Boys, BoxcarWiUie, Mickey Gflley's Family Theatre. Lights blink and pulse and chase each other above the highway. And Dad says, "Don't you remember coming here? Branson wasn't this developed then, but we used to camp and fish down...


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