Don Lively



We’ve all heard it.

“It’s like riding a bike. You never forget.”

It refers to what’s known as muscle memory.

One study I read in preparation for this week’s scribblings declared that “muscle memory never forgets”.

I suppose that’s true in some cases, for instance, in the actual riding of a bicycle.

It had been years since I did any peddling when I decided to give it a whirl. I bought one of the fancier numbers with multiple speeds. That took some getting used to since the bike I grew up on had exactly one speed. Still, I found that the basics were the same. You get on. You aim the bike where you want to go. You peddle until you want to stop. You stop.

Remembering how to ride was not the problem.

Riding a bike was a lot more work than I remembered, particularly since I learned to ride in the flatlands of Georgia but returned to biking in the foothills of Colorado.

It wasn’t the same.

But muscle memory did indeed kick in during the short stint that I huffed and puffed around the city for a few weeks until I sold the bike for a fraction of what I paid for it.

There are other things that are burned into my muscle memory.

Decades ago, Daddy propped his old 22 rifle over a log and had me lay on my belly and fire at a target fifty yards downrange. I learned to hit the mark most every shot and I still can.

I learned to drive a stick shift as a teenager, and, on the rare occasions that I’m called on to do so these days, I still remember the order.

Muscle memory never forgets.


Hold on there buckaroos.

Let’s talk about something that has been one of the banes of my existence for a long time.

Let’s talk about tying a tie.

Did you know that there are fifty-seven jillion different knots that a necktie can be fashioned into?

The Pratt knot.

The Oriental knot.

Windsor knots, half or full.

There’s even something called the Atlantic knot which looks absolutely tortuous, but oddly, no Pacific knot.

Fifty-seven jillion.

They all have something in common.

I can’t accomplish any of them.

There was a time in my life when I could tie a passable knot. When I was a young student at Bible college and later as a detective with my police department, ties were required.

Those days are gone.

Y’all, I have completely forgotten how to tie a tie.

Recently I had plans to attend an event that was billed as “business casual”, which I’m pretty sure means you should wear a tie. I had a brand new one, black, with numerous images of my beloved Georgia Bulldog. I’d never worn it but decided that it would match my blazer well enough. So, in order to make sure I got the tie tied in plenty of time, I began the task.

Muscle memory never forgets.

I call BS.

I tried every knot that I’d ever known and each one ended up catastrophically. With only a couple of hours left before the event started, I was getting desperate so I resorted to the modern tried-and-true method of learning something.

I Googled it.

Did you know that there are fifty-seven jillion YouTube videos that cheerfully instruct idiots like me how to tie a tie? And almost all of the instructors speak with genteel British accents.

The first one I watched sort of worked. I ended up with a decent knot but with only about four inches of tie. With my height and girth, I require considerably more that four inches of coverage so I started over with even worse results.

The second video I watched said basically the same as the first but this time when I did exactly, precisely what the Brit did, when I went to pull the knot tight, I found myself once again holding onto both ends of the tie.

There was no knot.

How on Earth does that happen?

The last video I watched actually showed you how to tie a tie on your hands before you put it on. All I did was bind my hands so tightly that I almost had to dial 911 to come set me free.

I ended up tossing the cussed thing in a corner and going to the event tieless.

I was thankful to find that about half the men there were also open collared.

My advice.

Go ride a bike.

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