Forgetfulness of things past
Copyright © 2020 Nat Segaloff
They say that if you go from one room to the next looking for something and by the time you get there you’ve forgotten what you were looking for, that’s normal. But if you go from one room to another and completely forget that you were looking for something to begin with, it’s time to start worrying.
Supposedly memory loss comes with age. “Memory is the second thing that goes,” somebody told me. Like a fool I asked, “What’s the first?” and he said, “Um, I forgot.” Ha effing ha. It’s happening to me now.
I forget names and faces, but that’s no big deal. I’ve never been much good at remembering them. That’s why I took to calling people “kid.” It sounds familiar when, in fact, it’s a cover-up. I also strove, in earlier years, to become famous because nobody expects a famous person to remember their name. I didn’t become famous, and I still forget names. That’s why I use “kid” a lot.
Perhaps it walks in my family. Not runs, walks. My gene pool forgets just enough to be charming. My own mother kept calling me by the wrong name for years and I was an only child. She used my cousin’s name and he was 21 years older than me.
I no longer sing in the shower because I keep forgetting the words. Sometimes I even forget whether I’ve already taken a shower. If the towel’s wet, I did.
What brings this to urgency is that tonight I was putting the dishes and silverware away and I forgot which tray the forks go in. What alarmed me was that the drawer was open and I’m staring at the forks and I can’t decide which are the salad forks and which are the entree forks while I’m holding onto some of each.
Tell me this is normal. They tell me that the human brain is like a computer hard drive and that after a while it gets so full of stuff that it slows down. These are the same people who say that humans use only ten percent of our brains. Okay, how do you defrag a brain? Can you back it up? If you can, where do you stick the firewire?
Suddenly all the Alzheimer’s jokes, which I have neither made nor liked, are haunting me. Will I soon get lost driving to the store? Will I forget to pay the utility bill or, worse, pay it twice? Will I hold a two-hour conversation with someone and the second hour is a complete replay of the first? I have gone through all of those and more with friends whose memories have begun failing and, while I was trying not to show my concern, I was also wondering how long it might be before I was on the other end of the blank expression.
If it helps, tonight I knew where the soup spoons went and didn’t confuse them with the teaspoons.
Last year I started calling my nephew Adam by the name “Alan.” So far I’ve done it six times. I have become my mother. It gets worse. When my mother turned 80 she went through the family album and tossed out any photos of people she couldn’t identify, her logic being that if she didn’t know who they were neither would I, so why save them? She kept her wits right up to the end. To test myself, a year ago I, too, went through my photos labeling who was who. Instead of throwing away those that I couldn’t ID, I held onto them to give myself a second chance a year later. Recently I looked at them again, and this time not only couldn’t I remember the people I forgot last time, I couldn’t remember many of the people I had remembered. I won’t be 80 for a couple of years.
Fortunately, I live with people who have never seen the movie “Gaslight.” But I still have to endure them insisting that they have told me something when I know – or at least think – they haven’t. So far it’s been nothing more serious that forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning, and I do my best to weasel out of that by saying, “Then why didn’t you give me the claim ticket?” and not listening when they say, “It’s under your name, Nat.”
“You mean it’s my dry cleaning?”
The way things are, I am purposely avoiding Chinese restaurants. With a cuisine where you supposedly get hungry again an hour later, forgetting that you had any in the first place could be a liability.
I wonder if this applies to having sex?
I don't write on spec, but every now and then something gets me fired up and I can't stop my fingers from hitting the keyboard.