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David Christy: On sensory overload

Enid News & Eagle - 2/2/2024

Feb. 2—"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." — Danish theologian and philosopher Soren Kirkegaard

Boy, is that a great observation or what?

Kirkegaard certainly is right. I've been living my life from the middle outward — forward and back.

You see, my uncle Harry — a World War II Navy veteran — always told me on the occasions he and his family would make the trek to Waukomis to visit at Christmas or Thanksgiving, or at my grandparents house in El Reno, that I was born grown.

What was I supposed to do? I kinda wanted to just be a kid.

That's out of the way and off my chest, so let's talk about food.

Nice segue huh?

A few weeks back I bought a huge bag of what was billed as "movie theater buttered"popcorn.

Please, truth in advertising!

It is not the real thing, nor even close. It says "buttered" but the butter of today must be way different than the butter of my early days on this planet.

I blame my tongue.

When I think back to my youth BC (before children — my 3 boys) I think of real movie theater popcorn.

You know, popped in rich, creamy coconut oil, artery clogging butter that smelled and tasted so good it became a food group with me.

I have other food groups I've shared with you over the years, like chicken fried steak smothered in cream gravy, my mom's Sunday roast with rich, brown gravy and mashed potatoes and that first spring/summer offering of fresh corn on the cob.

Then there was the smell of Thanksgiving turkey.


Why do we still remember stuff like this — tastes and smells — from our younger years?

As I've written more than once, I've been trying to replicate the Waukomis Schools cafeteria oven fried chicken for the many decades since my graduation in 1968. And the sheets of square-cut hamburger pizza and those cinnamon rolls.

To no avail.

Sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch are all most of us have to remember, to assimilate, to look forward to — to enjoy.

Now, my wife has a sixth sense that sometimes confounds me. She can tell when something just ain't right. And I swear she can see through solid steel and into the future.

Keeps me on my toes (smiley face).

So, can someone out there answer why we are constantly casting our memories backward to different times?

Oh, the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same just doesn't resonate with me these days.

I'm able to write on a computer screen instead of having to use cursive letters on a blank sheet of lined paper with a pen or pencil — usually a pencil since I had to make a lot of corrections and my school homework demonstrated that observation with half an eraser's worth of whatever erasers were made of still clinging longingly to my math or English papers.

Anyone relate to that?

Funny the things I remember today.

You know, like the smell of fried chicken cooking over a gas stove in my mom's kitchen.

Or that first day of spring when you literally can smell the season, with its usual strong, April moisture-laden air telling us storm season was here once again.

Occasionally I long for that feeling and sensory overload of running over from the old Waukomis High School building at the lunch bell to get there first in the grade school cafeteria line, with the strong aroma of cinnamon rolls hitting you from a block away as you did your utmost to beat a fellow classmate or upperclassman to a spot in line.

Still remember that feeling to this day.

Or, that get-out-of-jail feeling when the last bell of the school calendar ran out, and you were free for whatever awaited you during summer vacation.

Did you ever notice that when school let out for a year, you rarely if ever saw any of your classmates until that first fall semester of another school year rolled around?

Didn't think much of it back then, but I think about it a lot as I get on in years.

I still remember those first severe thunderstorms of spring that rolled around with dark, brooding clouds, lightning shows and tornado warnings, because my mom was deathly afraid of them.

She'll probably haunt me now for that remark.

Will never, ever forget those bitter cold winters of my youth, when the snow fell and clogged roads and bus routes to give us a rare snow day off during my secondary school days — sliding around on ice and packed snow, not concerned with anything other than staying warm.

Hmmm, that's one feeling I still retain, as winter messes with a mildly arthritic thumb as it hits my laptop space bar.

Still trying to figure out how to use a pencil eraser on my laptop screen. It's a work in progress.

Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at

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