Some things are better forgotten.
That time you had a wardrobe failure in gym class. Ugh, when your Mom revealed one of your childhood incidents to your best frenemy. The worst date ever. Those are things you'd like to pretend never happened but they did and, as in "How Do I Un-Remember This?" by Danny Pellegrino, what have you learned from them?
Memories are funny things: you can reminisce with someone about something you both saw or experienced, but you won't remember the exact same things in the same way. Says the host of the podcast Everything Iconic with Danny Pellegrino, that's when it's perfectly okay to take a "little detour..."
Growing up in a small town in Ohio, Pellegrino remembers being an awkward kid. He had many friends, but they couldn't always be trusted. At sleepovers, he generally preferred the company of the host's mother because she could be counted on for good gossip. He liked girls sometimes, but he remembers how confusing that was because he liked boys, too. He recalls bad dates, good brothers, the process of coming out, and the fluster of being outed. Even his family could be awkward: he remembers family trips as being full of cheap motels, bad roads, and "stress wine" for his mother.
And what can you learn from this?
You learn that if your parents can embarrass you, they will, and that bruises last forever but they don't always hurt that long. Know that there are days when it's perfectly okay to say no but that any time is a good time to discuss "The Trolley Song." You'll see why we should retire the young-white-cis-man trope in superhero movies. You'll learn why it's important to be careful of the things your cleaning lady has access to, and be thankful if you have parents who love you.
And you'll learn that sometimes, life is simply "about getting through the journey alongside the ones you love."
Judging a book by its cover is something we've been told not to do, but still. Looking at the front of this memoir hints at the humor inside, and yep, humor is here but it isn't the only thing. "How Do I Un-Remember This?" is warm and fuzzy, too.
That might be because this book is more like a conversation than a monologue. Author Danny Pellegrino includes his readers in his memories, and even when they're not identical, they're universal. Embarrassments during puberty, parents that make you red-faced, bad dates, public humiliation, fan obsessions, been there, done that, discussed and disgusted.
But then those things are put into perspective, in a way that seems like a gentle hand on your arm. Count your blessings, Pellegrino reminds readers, and look for the good and wise in what you recall. Even when – maybe especially when – those memories are full of barbs.
Have fun reading this book, but don't be surprised if "How Do I Un-Remember This?" tugs on your soul, too. Indeed, some things are better forgotten. This book isn't one of them.
"How Do I Un-Remember This? Unfortunately True Stories" by Danny Pellegrino
c.2022, Sourcebooks $25.99 272 pages