Rat poison, music and the brain


Recently, for no apparent reason at all, a song popped into my mind. In fact, I could remember both the words and the music. So, alone, I began to sing it aloud.

I had not heard that song in at least 55 or 60 years. The song wasn’t a doo-wop sound, a Beatles tune, or anything that one would expect. It was the jingle from the old TV commercial advertising RD Rat Poison:

“RD gets rid of rats,

Better than twenty cats.

Delayed action kills the pack

Always get RD.

RD is terrific, its action scientific.

Say goodbye to rats and mice,

Always get RD!”

That tune has been bouncing around in my head for two weeks now. Why is it that a song, and a jingle at that, about rat poison has bubbled up from wherever it was resting in my brain for the last 55-60 years, without any thought on my part at all, and emerged full blown?

Last week, I was at the supermarket and decided to look for RD Rat Poison. It was nowhere to be found. That night, I goggled RD. Nothing. If the company that made RD is still in existence, and if RD is still being made, I have not been able to locate any information.

And why is it that, while a long-dead song still lives in my head, its correct music and words, to the extent that I can “see” the commercial in my mind … and yet I cannot remember where I put my keys, my glasses, my wallet, or my cellphone? It’s not like the RD rat poison theme song was on the top 40 play list back then. Six decades of silence and suddenly, “I’m baaaack!”

It’s funny how the brain releases information at the oddest time. Once in a great while, I will remember when our parrot, named, of course, “Polly,” escaped from her cage and flew from the inside of the house into our back yard in northeast Tennessee. Polly never had her wings clipped and was capable of flight. But, although she flew from clothesline to tree to swing set, she eventually allowed herself to be recaptured and returned to the cage.

Why she never took her freedom and perished in the wild I will never know. But I was 3 or 4 years old and yet that memory is clear. Why is that? Why is it that some memories are dormant and some are easily retained?

I have been informed that the brain records and retains everything — that everything seen or heard or experienced is locked away inside that gray matter somewhere. There are two kinds of so-called perfect memory: The popular term, “photographic memory” differs in two main ways from ”eidetic memory”: it implies both a perfect and indestructible recall of images. Photographic memory refers to the ability to essentially store a snapshot of an image in one’s head and accurately recall any detail of the image.

I certainly don’t have either of those, but why do I suddenly and currently have “RD rat poison memory”? I cannot answer that question. My sons, or at least some of my grandkids, might answer, “Because you are weird.”

And that is as good an explanation as any. Certainly the brain, that wonderful and incomprehensible computer in our skulls, is incredible — and weird.

So, for now, I will just enjoy singing the RD Rat Poison jingle while I go search for my cellphone. Wherever it may be.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org)., 4881 Hwy. 34 East, Sharpsburg, GA. Sunday services are at 10:00 a.m. He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]