Originally published in Statement Magazine, 2019 Issue
“Oooh,” Elisa chuckled. “A challenge.”
“Not for me,” Felix grinned. This would not be, he suspected, the first woman he’d bedded solely on the wow-factor of his newly-installed Trememorendory. And even if Elisa should somehow be insufficiently dazzled, there were enough hot prospects culled from the party proper to all but guarantee a score.
The disbelieving horseshoe of partygoers tilted towards Elisa, who was making a grand, giggly show of searching her own piddling, analog memory bank for something that might trip up Felix’s Westmore-crafted, surgically implanted digital vaults.
“What color,” she finally asked, “what the gemstone of the ring I was wearing on my left middle finger, the very first time we met?”
“Oh ho ho,” Felix chuckled, buying time as he twiddled the fingers of his right hand, activating the hypersensitive kinesthetic keyboard and inputting the tag ELISA MAYER, which allowed him to search the memories indexed with her name, watching them fly past in his right periphery thanks to the ocular implant he’d gotten half-price as a package deal with the Trememorendory itself. “Trying to trip me up in the dark ages, eh?” Twiddle twiddle twiddle. The oldest memory tagged with Elisa’s name, a recollection from the dismal days of pure biology, was hazy and ill-defined, one reverse-engineered by the brainboxes at Westmore rather than recorded with the eyeball implant.
It was good enough, though.
Smiling so wide both rows of sandblasted teeth glittered in the dim light, Felix put it to her, in what he imagined was a P.T. Barnum-esque voice, that “you’re trying to trick me – the ring on your finger was a gold band, nothing more!”
“Is he right?” Milton wondered from the ever-expanding crowd.
Elisa shrugged and raised her arms. “He’s right!”
Bemused applause. Felix half-bowed, spiraling his hand from his forehead as he did. Why he should take such personal pride in a synthetic enhancement, he couldn’t say. Yet he did. And why not? Even if the memories themselves were, eh, facilitated, he’d catalogued most of them himself, and by god, he’d worked hard to save up for the Trememorendory to begin with!
“I’ve got one,” Milton croaked. “Remember when you told me about having gotten the Trememorendory?”
Felix scoffed. Didn’t even need to search for that one. “In your cubical, yes, I remember.”
“What was the fifth word on the page on top of the stack immediately to the right of my monitor say?”
“Ooooooooh,” was what the partygoers said.
“Pah,” Felix replied, twiddling furiously as he did, “do youeven remember? With your meat memory?”
“Of course I do.”
Twiddle twiddle twiddle, Felix searched MILTON HIGGINS, pulled up the memory of walking into his cubical, paused it, panned to the pages on his desk, and zoomed. “The fifth word, and nice try by the way, the fifth word was innovative.”
Milton shrugged. “So it was.”
“Ok, ok,” a guy who worked on the floor above Felix cut in, “here’s one: what’s my name?”
Felix squinted at the guy and thought: fuck.
Where had he met this guy first? He couldn’t remember, and there wasn’t anything useful to be found with what tags Felix could think to search. ONE FLOOR UP, GUY WITH FRECKLES, GOGGLE-EYED ASSHOLE. He twiddle-flipped his way through every office party he’d ever attended, even those snowblind reflections that predated his Trememorendory, yet none revealed this guy’s familiarly unfamiliar face.
“Do you need a hint?” The goggle-eyed asshole asked.
“No. No, I don’t need a damn hint.”
“You seem agitated,” Milton needled.
“I’m not. I’m just Trememorendorembering.”
“Your fingers aren’t moving,” Sam observed.
Felix resumed twiddling his right hand as he lifted the middle finger of his left. “How’s that?”
He couldn’t spare the attention to hear Sam’s retort, so intensely was he focused on the memories and Trememorendoremories swooping through his periphery. Where the fuck had he met this guy? Felix searched GLASSES and COWORKER and STUPID SHIRT and DUMB SMILE, but turned up nothing useful for his troubles.
Ok, ok. Maybe he could search OK OK. This guy seemed like the type who’d say “Ok, ok” as a matter of course, like people who say “well, actually” or “I mean, like,” or “at the end of the day”. OK OK got him nothing but impressionistic recollections of a road trip to Oklahoma, in duplicate.
The department above Felix’s, the one where this guy worked, was…assessment? Or was it allocations? Was allocations even a department? He searched both and came up with memories of pretty ladies he’d eyed up and down for the former, times he’d cadged fries from people’s plates when they weren’t looking for the latter.
FUCK. FUCK FUCK. FUCK FUCK FUCK.
“Ah,” Felix began, turning his attention from the blur of recollections in his periphery to the group in front of him, “…ah?”
The group in front of him was now neither of those things. They’d scattered to various other parts of Holly’s apartment, nattering about things far less impressive than Felix’s Trememorendory. This did not bode well for his conjugal prospects re: Elisa.
Finding his quarry by the kitschy gas lightswitch fireplace, he closed in with what he hoped registered as the precise opposite of embarrassment. “Say,” he began, “I don’t believe I’ve evermet that fellow before. It was a trick, like you tried to play on me with the ring.”
Elisa flashed him a tolerant smile, then asked her friends to “hang on just a second,” which was the final nail in the coffin on Felix’s hopes, a coffin which was prompty lit on fire and pushed off a bridge into an even larger coffin which was loaded onto a plane and flown into the side of a mountain.
So Felix turned and walked out of the party before she had a chance to say anything too tactful. All the way home, he was powerless to do anything but relive the humiliation of the moment, searching NAMELESS GUY and suffering through his failure over and over again. The harder he tried to avoid it, the more inexorably he was drawn back to it.
“You seem agitated,” Milton needled for the millionth time, just as Felix drifted off to sleep, immediately after he awoke.
“I’m not,” Felix had replied, could do nothing but reply, over and over again, “I’m just Trememorendorembering.”