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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I had a good title for this, but I forgot it

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Do you ever forget something so simple that it makes you afraid that your time has come? Yesterday I was making an appointment to have my car inspected. The man at the service desk asked for the type of car. For the life of me I couldn't remember to say that it is a Malibu. I stuttered around and finally said it was a Chevy. That seemed to be all he needed but I was left pondering why I could remember details about my parents' cars for an article I wrote, but couldn't come up with the name of my own.

I know all about short term and long term memory, and how the long term stays with you longer than the short term. That isn't too much consolation. However, I tell myself that it is my professional job to remember the things from the past so that I can continue to write these columns and the Senior Page articles. It wouldn't be very worthwhile to read about the details of my Malibu when you pass dozens of them in the street each day. But hopefully reading about a 1937 Buick might be interesting.

When I am writing my articles or columns I use the computer easily. I have a certain pattern that I follow each time almost automatically. If I get interrupted in the middle of the process it sometimes takes me a second or two to complete the process. I think my fingers are trained to punch certain keys, even if I'm not thinking about it. But if I do stop to think about it, my process can get muddled.

I guess that is similar to learning to type. When you see the word "elephant" you don't stop to think, "OK I must put my left big finger on the "e" key and my right ring finger on the "l" key and go through the word. You just start typing and your brain and fingers have it all figured out for you after you first mastered the keyboard.

I'm hoping that some of that will work for me in other things in addition to typing, playing the piano, and even operating machines like the dishwasher or washing machine.

But so far it hasn't worked with names. There are certain well known and liked people I see quite often whose names always give me trouble. Other times a name that I have known for years will escape me for a moment when it is needed the most. Many of Lester's and my conversations revolve around, "What was the name of that woman who ...". If one remembers one of her names the other name will come.

One of my favorite jokes deals with this aspect of aging. An older couple was invited to another couple's home. The men were sitting in the living room after the meal while the women were still in the kitchen. The guest told the host that he and his wife had gone to a new restaurant last week and really enjoyed it. The host asked the name of the restaurant so they could try it themselves. The guest began thinking and finally said, "What is that flower that has a long stem and thorns on it?" The host said, "A rose?" "Yes" replied the guest, and turning his head he yelled, "Rose, what was the name of that restaurant we went to last week?"

It is comforting to know there are enough others with this problem that we afflicted Middle Age Plus folk can enjoy a joke about it

I have always heard about some people being name droppers, but I hadn't realized earlier that it was referring to this condition.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus