I Keep Forgetting
by Patricia Draznin

Like many of my midlife friends, my memory is picketing for a shorter workweek. That means I forget people’s names, like my own. Recalling names used to be automatic but now it’s like driving a standard shift. Thank goodness for greetings like “Hey” and “Dude!” that allow my brain an extra four seconds to search the database of every person I’ve ever met, six seconds if I stretch it (“Hey, Duuuuuude”). And God bless my husband, uh, Dean, for being so supportive. He’s getting used to wearing his nametag. And I’ve gotten used to leaving my mail near the telephone in case the caller asks, “Who’s this?”

Forgetting names would be hard enough. But I also experience a general all-purpose kind of forgetting, which is why I walk into the kitchen several times a day in search of something I can’t remember. This means I spend a lot of time near the refrigerator without knowing why. So as not to make the trip a total loss, I fix myself a little snack. Since my memory went south I’ve gained six pounds, which means my torso is expanding as fast as my brain is shrinking. If only my hips could think.

Memory lag would be hard enough but I’ve always been one of those people who can only do one thing at a time. For instance, I can’t talk while I’m driving. I’ve been known to miss my own street just because someone changed the radio station. To a normal person like my husband who can talk on the phone, write a press release, and watch The Sopranos at the same time, my brain is a source of wonder. We decided that the reason I can’t do more than one thing at a time is because I only have one neuron. “But it’s a good, honest little neuron,” Dean will say. “And that’s what makes you special.”

Being a one-neuron individual with memory lag would be hard enough but I’ve always been one of those people who gets distracted. The big challenge comes during important discussions like when my contractor is giving me a quote for installing central air in my home. My mind freezes on something he said earlier—about how he’s going to put an axe through the wall above the fireplace to install an air duct, which means I’ve left him standing there yapping to nobody. When I re-surface he’s asking for a $3000 deposit to start hacking through the walls, and I missed hearing the total price tag. This man would never understand about my one neuron, so I have to make him repeat the price without letting him know I missed it.

“How does this price compare with other homes this size?” I ask.

“Well, the Sanders’ job cost $4,200 but they already had the air ducts.”

“So, we’re talking . . . how much more than that?”

“Like I told you, more than double.”

“How much more than double?”

Eventually I decide it would be easier to have my husband call him, if I could just remember to ask him.

Someday I’ll find a support group for distracted, one-neuron individuals with memory lag. And maybe we’ll all remember to meet, and even the reason we’re meeting. All we want is to lead normal lives and to be like the rest of you, who don’t forget names or get distracted and always remember why you’re standing in front of the refrigerator.

Copyright 2004 Patricia Draznin


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