A couple of weeks ago, my friend Mitch and I were engaged in a highly competitive intellectual battle to see whose memory was failing more quickly. We were trying to remember, in backwards order starting from the present, the names of losing vice presidential candidates.

(Don’t ask. It may have had something to do with being at a restaurant and not being able to decide among the main courses, always a tricky decision if the menu is in very small print. It could have been because we had already exhausted listing in reverse order from the present the names of our elementary school teachers. In any case, that’s how we were spending our time. Our lives are just full of excitement.)

As we were struggling with the name of the losing vice presidential candidate for 1972, Mitch’s 24-year-old son walked by and asked us what we were doing. Grateful that he had even noticed us, unfortunately we told him.

It took him about 11 seconds to look up the answer on his iPhone, get the information, and tell us.

We were not amused.

It was nice to know the name, of course (and by the way, before you go to your own iPhone, it was Sargent Shriver). But getting it so quickly, so easily, had taken all the exquisite anguish out of it. We live for exquisite anguish.

It had stopped us from saying, “oh, I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight unless I can think of who that was.”

(Of course, that was easy to say, since neither of us sleeps very well.)

It had kept us from continuing to say, as we had been, that it was right there on the tips of our tongues, and if we just had a little more time, could concentrate a little more, or had shorter tongues, we were going to get it.

Began with the letter “R”, didn’t it? Maybe “P”? Rhymes with banana?

Most likely, of course, we would have forgotten about it entirely and instead tried to think of what’s her name, the woman who sang that song, you know the one with the chorus that keeps repeating itself, that was in the movie with that other guy, who’s the brother-in-law of what’s his name?

Nevertheless, Mitch’s son had taken all the fun out of it. He didn’t understand that we want information but we don’t want information to be too readily available, particularly if it contradicts the stories we’ve been fabicating for many years.

When it is, I can no longer tell people that back in the ’60s, I played in a band with four guys from Liverpool. Now they can find out almost immediately that what I really meant is that back in the ’60s I played the music of a band of four guys from Liverpool on my transistor radio.

It’s sort of almost the same thing, if you don’t have an iPhone.

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