_____ Memory Syndrome

For years — thirty-eight or so years — I’ve had a certain phrase in my head, a phrase for which I get no Google results. It arises from the context of Duke basketball, and the expectation that my mates and I would watch televised games together during our graduate studies in Durham.

One afternoon, or night, we were watching a game (I have the strong sense that it was an ACC game, and almost as strong a sense that it involved Duke) in which a player (it could’ve been Quin Snyder) was operating on the perimeter, the camera following him although he didn’t have the ball. He may have broken toward the paint, or may have been sizing up the defence, when we, the viewers, saw the ball flying into the frame and bouncing off the stalwart, startled young man — at which point the commentator observed, ‘[The ball] caught him between two thoughts.’ In my recollection, we all found this a side-splittingly funny remark, and it became a byword for situations in which someone was caught off guard, especially (in our academic setting) by an unanticipated question or observation.

But in retrospect, I realised that I couldn’t be totally sure about the whole memory; I am, after all, getting older, and the phrase seemed not to have left any trace on the internet. So this afternoon I wrote to my post-grad basketball buddies, to check my recollection with them….

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