Columns 2003

An aging mind is a scary thing

One of my friends recently announced she was moving to Tucson, Arizona.  Too bad she’s not moving to Phoenix.  Because that’s where I’ve placed her in my head. And once she’s been placed there in my mind, it’s a pretty good bet she will be retired and living in the Bahamas before I correctly remember her new hometown.

I don’t know why Phoenix got stuck in my mind other than it being the first Arizona city I think of when I think of Arizona cities, which is admittedly not all that often.  But I have found that as I get older, if something gets lodged in my brain, rightly or wrongly, it has the sticking power of crazy glue.  And no matter how many times she repeats the word “Tucson”, I will hear Phoenix.

This annoying habit seems to be gathering steam as I age and has become particularly irksome when it comes to songs that get stuck in my mind.  I will get a phrase going round and round and it will stay with me for days. I’ll go to sleep with it playing in my head and wake up with it still there.  Sometimes it will even be with me in my dreams.

I think along with this problem, I have also slowed down somewhat in my comprehension of the world about me. For instance, every once in awhile I am tempted to turn on a music station and watch a video to see what all the excitement is about.  Unfortunately, I’ve never actually been able to get completely through one.

I find myself confused by imagery that may or may not have anything to do with the lyrics of the song – which I may or may not actually be hearing correctly.  Reading lips doesn’t seem to work because I know they can’t say the words on TV that my lip reading seems to indicate they are saying.

I thought I would like music videos because I like dance but I find that you don’t actually get to see a dance.  You get to see a foot here, a leg there, and then some unmentionable or indecipherable body part thrown in to just confuse us older folks who are staring at it and wondering how it could be part of the human body if we don’t recognize it.

There was a time when I could have kept up with all this.  It was probably the same time when the Matrix movies would have made sense to me.  But time is speeding up for me while my body is slowing down and I find the resulting reality confusing.

It’s bad enough to go into a room and stand there blankly wondering why you entered it. It’s even worse to drive to the mall and then stand there blankly looking around and wondering why you needed to be there till you notice the bank deposit slip in your hand.

I have reached a point where drive up windows at fast food establishments intimidate me. I used to like occasionally going to those drive thru places just because I go so rarely that I view it as a fun treat. Since I’m not familiar with their menu, I need time to read it and decide which load of fat and carbs I want that day. But the world no longer seems to have that much time to spare me.

Not only do I have trouble reading the small lettering on their extensive menus, but the pressure of making an instant decision on my order is just more than I can bear.  Instead of the leisure of telling the waiter to come back in a minute because I’m not ready to order, I have a van full of children and a harried mother in the car behind me looking as though they’ll pounce if I take longer than five seconds to make my choice.

I’ll learn to live with these new restrictions on my life. It’s not as though I need to go to fast food restaurants. And my life will be full if I never actually see a music video from start to finish.  But this thing about lyrics in my head, that will make me crazy. For instance, how many of you can hear the words, “It’s a small world after all…” and not have the song stuck in your mind for the next two days? 

Have a wonderful 48 hours.