Last Wednesday, I think, I can’t remember, I went to yoga at the Carnegie Library.
I hadn’t been in a long while and knew my exercise might take a toll on me the next day. I am 64. I am now considered a senior citizen. But my instructor once said in the past something about muscle memory. Do you know what that is? If you are like me, I don’t want you to have to think too hard, so let me help you recall.
The name muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning. Motor learning is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.
When a movement is duplicated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task. Because of this repetition the muscle allows it to be performed without conscious effort, this decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems.
Examples of this are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bike, playing a musical instrument, typing on a keyboard, dancing or typing in your PIN. I am glad my muscle remembers the yoga moves because my brain seems to be slowing down.
Uh, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. I was talking about Wednesday.
Seniors are given discounts at certain stories on Wednesdays. One store has cancelled the discount. They have stated that since they have low prices every day, so there is no longer any need to give seniors an extra 5 percent off their purchases. Well, that’s what I heard. But I don’t know if I remember that correctly.
But that same Wednesday after yoga, I went to the grocery to make a few purchases. These days I mostly carry my list. But should I run in for a small number of items, I alphabetize them in my head.
Let’s say I need bread, milk, lettuce, cola, cookies and potatoes. I’d have to put them in alphabetical order to remember them: bread, cola, cookies, lettuce, milk and potatoes. I’m going to get that wrong, so to help me I shorten the list to b,c,c,l,m,p. And then I sometimes make a sort of anagram: bcclamp (bread, cookies, cola and milk, potatoes). Well, I need more help, so I start singing it in my head.
You know how you can remember the words to songs from decades before even if you haven’t heard them in a long time? That’s because words set to music helps to build memory. I read that somewhere in my education courses but I can’t tell you where. No, really. I can’t tell you. I might sing – and I sing this out loud, mind you, but softly to myself – B-cclamp, cclamp, cclamp, cclamp. It has a nice beat.
Like on American Bandstand, I’d give it a “6”.
Oh, I failed to remember something else I needed to add to my list at the last minute and it’s “Don’t forget at checkout to say, ‘I am a senior’ so I can get the 5 percent discount.” Now the B-cclamp has turned into B-cclamps.
I’m alphabetizing, shortening, anagramming, singing and beat-boxing that bcclamps meter in my head while shopping. I choose my items, place in buggie, get in check-out line, line my items up by cold purchases and regular purchases – to help the bagger, and as they are sliding on down the belt, I am pulling out my charge card – from my Wonder bra, chatting with the friendly cashier, and yes, it’s Wednesday so you-know-where-I-am-going-with-this, and I fail to mention, “I am a senior!”
You’d think they’d notice.
I think I missed out on $1.23 after all that memorization, but I don’t recall.
Lee St. John, a retired Coweta County high school English teacher, is the author of five humorous books and two audio books. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org