While traveling with my mom years ago she asked if she could borrow my drow blyer. But she didn’t say “Can I use your drow blyer–I mean blow dryer,” she just said “Can I use your drow blyer?” and stared at me blankly.
And I was lost in my thoughts.
Did she mean drow blyer? Why isn’t she correcting herself? Maybe she can’t hear herself anymore… Is this where I’m headed? Should I call it a drow blyer when I give it to her? Maybe it really is a drow blyer and I’ve been mistakenly calling it a blow dryer…
Getting older is fun because your brain just starts breaking down. Or rather, intelligence and wisdom combine with such intensity that it short-circuits normal brain function.
For me, it started with the little things. Answering the remote when the phone rang. Texting my cousin Laura that I couldn’t find my phone. The phone I was texting her from (never mind — found it!).
The other day an Airbnb guest came into the kitchen and instead of saying good morning I blurted out happy birthday.
I was as confused as he was. It was so ridiculous that I wasn’t even sure I had said it. I popped a coffee into the Keurig, thinking Did I just say happy birthday? Why aren’t I acknowledging it? And why isn’t he? Oh god – it’s drow blyer all over again.
I fantasized about trying to cover with “That’s right — I bought this coffee maker 2 years ago today. Happy birthday, Keurig!”
But then I’d be the guy who keeps track of his appliance birthdays. So to remedy the situation I just started coughing hard to indicate that we were going to the next scene — like adding a dissolve in Final Cut.
It didn’t work. He asked if I needed some water, and then asked if it was my birthday.
Last week I went to Target and realized in the parking structure I had left my shoes at home. I went back to check my car three times thinking there’s no way I walked out of the house and got in the car and drove to Target in bare feet. My sandals must have slipped off my feet and were in the car under the seat somewhere.
They were not. And of course I’m not gonna drive all the way home to get them, so then I was just THAT GUY. Walking bare foot across the disgusting parking garage floor. Standing barefoot in the elevator as nervous parents pulled their children in closer. Padding across the cold vinyl flooring inside Target, collecting dirt and hair on my bare feet like a Swiffer.
I get so enraged when I tell Siri “Call mom” and she replies with something random like “The time in Perth, Australia is 11:20pm.” But I’m becoming as non-sensical as Siri. I’m broken.
If I were a toaster, I’d take myself back to Best Buy. “This thing is broken. I just got it half a century ago but now when I press toast it just starts playing the Star Spangled Banner.”
It doesn’t help my memory problems that I have an irrational fear of forgetting people’s names during an introduction— especially if they’re a close friend or family member. The fear has turned into a kind of power surge that instantly clears my memory the moment I begin to introduce someone, making it impossible to remember ANYONE’S name, ever.
“Bob, this is my sister… the uh… daughter of my mom… and they call her… it’s a funny story – she was named after a river in Butte County… but we just call her…. Sestra.”
“Hi – I’m Kelley.”
“KELLEY – yes. You can also call her by her actual name, Kelley.”
It happens even when I do something as mundane as sending a text to a friend. I create a new text, and then rack my brain trying to come up with their name.
“Come on, Paul – you know this. Tall… Korean.. my closest friend… Kimchi? That sounds wrong. Kim Jong-un? I know it starts with Kim…. ALEX! So close…”
A couple weeks ago I got together with Alex and Derek, my two closest friends in all the world. Derek abandoned us years ago when he moved to New York to take a job as a greeter at Banana Republic. Or something like that — he always tells me what he does but I don’t listen. I know he’s famous, but I’m not sure why. I assume he’s just really good at folding shirts. Derek’s been doing some kind of sketchy injections for years that he refuses to discuss but it’s why he still looks 14. Alex is the actual baby of the group, and he’s Asian. I like to point out that he’s Asian, because having an Asian best friend makes me seem less racist.
Anyway, as we sat together eating frozen yogurt I shared with them how the other day I couldn’t remember my age. I knew it was one of two numbers, and I was either going to be really happy or really bummed when I found out which was correct. I finally had to look at my drivers license, which stupidly doesn’t even tell you how old you are unless you do the math (Millennials: math was a kind of number science we had to do in our heads before Google could think for us).
At that point, Alex confessed that he has to sing what he’s doing or he’ll forget it by the time he gets to the other room.
On Derek and my confused look, he continued.
“Like I’ll start singing ‘I’m going to the dining room to get myself some scissors…’ as I’m walking, and the melody helps me remember…”
I honestly don’t know if that’s better than just standing there with your mind racing. Also who keeps scissors in the dining room?
Derek refused to admit he’s having memory problems, then launched into his annual complaint that in 15 years I had never come to visit him in New York.
“Are you serious? I just saw you there last year.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A year ago I came to New York and saw your office. I stayed with you at your home upstate.”
“I had to take a train to get there. We took the train together both ways. You made us breakfast every day.”
He squinted. “It’s beginning to sound familiar…”
“OMG I have to write this down.” I picked up my iPhone, opened the Notes app, and stared at it.
No. Not now. Don’t do this.
“What. Was. The story. What am I writing? You JUST told me.”
They stared at me with blank faces, chewing slowly, like 2 dairy cows that had just been asked for directions to the Grove.
Realizing that the three of us are all becoming dim as dairy cows was unsettling, but also somewhat comforting. At least if we’re going down, we’re going down together.
So we sat together in silence, licking our spoons and watching the sun set. In so many ways.
Then a piano fell out of a 10th floor apt. killing us instantly.
(I decided to punch up the ending – that sunset line was too depressing).