Being one of the token natives to the Charleston area, I figured I would take a cop-out approach to the City Paper Summer Guide challenge by “memorizing” streets on the peninsula. My competition, Music Editor Mr. Ballard Lesemann, one of the few native Charlestonians working at the City Paper office, agreed to narrow our looming task to only the roadways falling in the notoriously beautiful and historic district south of Broad Street. Upon the concession, I thought I had the challenge wrapped up. Ashley, Meeting, Rutledge — this will be a cake walk, I chuckled to myself. Then I zoomed in more closely on Google Maps. To my dismay, I found alleys and lanes that I had never taken the time to notice before. After compiling a final list of 43 names, and acknowledging that I had over-credited myself with my prior knowledge, I finally realized the severity of my undertaking.
Being the over-achiever that I am, I took to my preparation like I was memorizing the Periodic Table, or Word Within the Word, or some other area of my elementary education that I forgot immediately after taking the test. I wrote and rewrote my list, and repeated it under my breath until tourists on the street thought I was slightly disturbed.
Yet, even my calculated studying methods could not help the inevitable brain freeze. I started out strong, flying through the first third of the alphabet. Ballard was sweating, although I couldn’t tell if it was because he was facing somebody with superior memory or the nearly 100 degree temperature. But then I froze in the middle of the nine streets starting with the letter L. Declaring a winner might be difficult, despite my extended pause. I will uphold the idea that Ballard had a head start, hearing me rattle off the list before his time in the spotlight.
In the end, I learned my lesson. My attempt at securing the easiest feat backfired, and I walked away in a haze of confusion from prolonged, intense concentration to which I am no longer accustomed. I think next year I will stick to something more physical.