My brain has officially turned to mush. This is the threat I always say to my children if they are watching too much TV (“Your brain is going to turn to mush!”), but now it has happened to me and it has nothing to do with television and everything to do with being 42.
We walk into a restaurant and the hostess seats us near the window. We get settled at our table, and seconds later, a waiter appears announcing, “Hi! My name is Bryan/ Rick/ Jason and I’ll be taking care of you tonight!” I am forgetting his name as he is saying it. I am thinking about scallops and whether they will be cooked right this time (like they were two times ago), or if they will be raw and mushy (like they were last time).
I am at home in the study, writing. I remember I need to go to the basement for something, so I walk down the two flights of stairs. The moment I get there, I have zero recollection of what I went down for. I go back upstairs. Once back up, I remember: Oh, yes, I need to transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer before they get mildewed and mushy. Sigh.
I answer the phone. It is not a number I recognize. It is not a voice I recognize. The merry person who dialed apparently remembers who she is and who she is calling because she chirps, “Hi MOV! How are you?!” I have to sit there making benign chitchat (“Good, really good—but how are you?”) while my brain is doing backflips trying to figure out who this is. Please, God, let her mention her child’s name, or some common function we attended, or where she works out: give me some crumbs here, some mushy crumbs.
I am at work at the high-end kitchen store (and truly, it’s a miracle that I remembered my schedule and that I’m actually supposed to be here right now instead of yesterday or tomorrow). The Boss hands me some new “Shift Guidelines” and one of them seems to be that I am now responsible for a certain section of the store depending on the day (today is soaps and linens) and each shift I will need to focus on maintaining my specific area to our corporate standards. I start to feel panicky as I look over the list. Do I have to memorize it? Will there be a quiz later, and if I fail will I be fired?
“Uh, Boss?” I squeak, “Do I have to, uh, memorize this?”
After four years, The Boss knows who she is dealing with. “Are you kidding, MOV? We are going to laminate that sheet and keep it right here by the register for new hires—and you—to refer to. Of course you don’t have to memorize it.” She is obviously harkening back to last week when she sent me to the back stock room to retrieve more cookbooks and I returned empty-handed but with chocolate brownie crumbs on my face (thanks for making brownies again, Stacey; but they were a tad bit mushy).
I want to be that person with the amazing memory, the person who can instantaneously recall every detail of your last conversation together (whereas I say things like, “Janelle, how is your grandmother feeling now?” and she replies, “MOV, she died two years ago—you came to the funeral.”). Why can I not remember anything?
It is because my brain is already full, full of things that don’t matter anymore like my first grade teacher’s name (hi, Mrs. Link!), or my childhood phone number (454-7388), or which tube stop for Harrods in London (Knightsbridge on the Piccadilly line), or the exact floor-plan of every house or apartment I’ve ever lived in (including closet placement) and even a few hotel rooms I’ve stayed in. Is it useful to know where the bathroom was located when I spent a semester in France? Yes, at the time, obviously, but now it might be more helpful to remember how to pronounce my next-door neighbor’s name (is it Mrs. Gillian with a hard or soft “G”?) instead of continually saying the-weak-imitation-and-getting-old “Well, hey there, neighbor!”
I vow to do Sudoku puzzles (if I could just remember where I put them), I vow to do crosswords (but the same-page comics are infinitely more appealing), I vow to really listen to people when they tell me their name (that means you, Bryan/ Rick/ Jason).
And if none of that works out, I know a very nice apartment in France I could rent (as long as they haven’t relocated the bathroom).
(“Mush Or Vicinity”)