Are you listening, Alice? The U.S. Justice Department (full disclosure: My nephew is a lawyer in the environmental appellate division) has warned lawyers for Guantanamo detainees that the documents released by WikiLeaks — making them available to everyone in the world and Wonderland, and I’m not talking Michael Jackson’s old stomping ground — are still classified, and that the lawyers cannot look at them, except under rigorous security controls, or discuss any of the classified information they contain. Despite my center-left politics (probably more left than center, but that changes from day to day in accord with whatever nincompoopery our government is perpetrating at the time), I have a great deal of respect for many of the institutions in this country (and also, I might add, despite the fact that they sometimes appear to be operating on another planet, or at least in another time zone on this little earth), and it is sorely tried at moments like this.

I am reminded very strongly of an incident in Red Wing, Minn., decades ago when I was buying a pair of Red Wing boots at the Red Wing factory (“eponymous” is a word that would fit in well here if I could figure out exactly where to put it) and found, as I laced them up, that the said laces were different lengths. “My good man,” I said to the shoe clerk (not really, but I have always wanted to address someone that way and this seems as good time as any), “these laces are different lengths.”

“Why,” the good man said in return, “that can’t be. We make only one length of lace.” (He probably said “We only make” etc., but I shan’t belabor the point of misplaced modifiers, though it is one of my pet peeves, and this misusage is very common, if not as common as the use of “laying” for “lying,” said “lying” probably now considered acceptable, though never in my lexicon). Nor did he have any explanation when I ripped the laces from the boots and held them out together so that even a severely sight-challenged person could easily see that they were indeed different lengths. Red Wing made laces of only one length, and there was nothing more to be said.

I bought the boots anyway, and while I can’t remember if I was successful in getting two laces of the same length, I do hope I came away with the longer mismatch (or were the matches shorter?) to add to my collection of totally useless items. As my friend Tug said not too long ago, it would be easy for me to have a yard sale: All I’d need to do is open my garage doors.

Lemon Lifesavers are another lesson in this direction, but I shall save that for later when I can’t think of anything else, which is more often than one who knows the incredible amount of totally useless information (so far, that is, and already referenced several times in this column here) is stuffed into all the nooks and crannies in my seemingly busy brain.

Driving back to Maine the other day after a weekend in New York, I was listening to my iPod, which has on it everything from Percy Faith’s “Theme from ‘A Summer Place’” to something called “Adiemus” (which I think I heard first in an ad for Delta Airlines, just another of the essentially useless factoids that find a home in my head, which sometimes appears to have nothing better to do than store junk the way my basement does), and thinking how many songs are attached to a particular phase of one’s love-life history. “Summer Place” was, I think, in1958 or 1959 and says to me “Eddie Doran,” a very attractive freshman or sophomore at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. (founded in 1693 and the second oldest college in the United States, I just discovered when I Googled its location, after Harvard but really long before since plans were drawn up in 1618), not too far from where I was at school in Richmond.

In addition to being Older and stunning (black Irish, you know, or one brand of it — very black, curly hair and very blue eyes), Eddie played varsity basketball, conferring on me (and him, too, I suppose), a certain cachet that I did not hesitate to flaunt (a word that always makes me think of Victoria Gotti, a daughter of the late, unlamented-by-me mobster John Gotti, who, when her father died, or was maybe just arrested for the last time thanks to Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, one of my favorite mobsters, though slipping a little from favor when he relapsed so enthusiastically, got up on a sound truck and called him “the last of the Monhegans,” possibly meaning “Mohicans,” but neither making the least bit of sense, which is why I don’t think I’ll be reading her book, “This Family of Mine,” a play on the words “this thing of ours,” which is what members of the Mafia call that fascinating but increasingly dysfunctional society) in front of my less fortunate classmates.

Having made that observation about songs and love life, I cannot think of a single other instance in my own experience, though one has just now popped into my head. That would be Bob Dylan’s gorgeous “Lay Lady Lay” (which should be, of course, “Lie Lady Lie,” but never mind), which comes along with memories of Jimmy Snyder, whom I used to drive to his parole appointments (please don’t ask), where I would wait for him in the car and play “Lay Lady Lay” over and over again.

Jimmy died later that summer, but I was not there, and someplace in my rat’s nest I have a small slip of paper with the location of his grave. I did go to his funeral and vowed I would never go to another, a vow that I have largely kept, except in the case of family members, of which there have fortunately been only a few so far (funerals, I mean, but also family members, as my father was an only child and my mother had only one brother — interesting, don’t you think, the difference in how “only” is used in those two instances? I do — and of my parents’ three daughters only one fulfilled her biological imperative, and that only once too) but as one gets older, one can never hear the phone ring (if that’s what it is still called, not having heard a real ring in years) without thinking that it is ringing for you — or tolling, if you are a fan of John Donne, and who isn’t? though I think calling a ringtone a toll is a real stretch.