Earlier this week, I received this email note from Peter Tibbles, he who runs the Sunday Elder Music column and is a handful of years younger than I am:
”This morning I decided to take some cardboard down to the recycle bin (and yes, they were empty wine boxes). So with laden hands, I unlocked the door and attempted to pull the key out of the lock (I have a deadlock and I leave the key in the lock when I'm home).
“It wouldn't come out. I tried and tried, but nothing. Well, the door was open so I decided to take the cardboard downstairs and check it later, making sure that the downstairs door was snibbed open.
“Well, I got back and the key still wouldn't come out of the lock no matter what I did. Then it occurred to me that it should be aligned at 3 o'clock to come out, not 6 o'clock as I was trying to do.
“Thirty years I've been here.
“I offer these mitigating circumstances: the lock on the other side of the door requires the 6 o'clock orientation to remove the key. Perhaps I didn't know if I was inside or outside.”
Oh, I know all about such a memory lapse. They happen to me all the time. It takes a good deal longer than necessary to get blog posts done because I frequently have to hunt for the feature I want in OpenOffice or paint.net or my email.
Peter has his 30 years using that lock. I have two decades using these computer programs; I should be able to function with them in my sleep. But nooooooo.
A few days ago, my Kindle needed charging. I opened the drawer where the cable lives and – oops, nothing there. I stared in disbelief; I'm good at returning items to where they belong.
It took a few hours for me to recall that a month or two ago I had moved the cable to a drawer in another room.
Dumb, dumb, dumb. I had broken one of my own long-standing rules for being old: never, ever change the place where you have stored a tool for a long time because the first storage place will stick in your mind forever and you might never find the tool again.
These – Peter's and my own memory-related mistakes – will not be unfamiliar to most of you who read this blog. I have dozens of other examples and I'm sure you do too.
Yesterday, I heard from cyber-friend and fellow New Yorker, Esther Harriott. You may remember her name from the story here two years ago about her excellent book, Writers and Age: Essays on and Interviews with Five Authors.
Esther included a link to a video that has a load of fun with the topic of today's post. It may be as vaguely familiar to some of you as it was to me yesterday. I was surprised find that it had been posted in these pages as a written joke in 2007, and in 2011, this self-same video - which further underlines the transitory nature of elder memory - or, at least, mine. Enjoy.
I'm no doctor or medical researcher but I'm pretty sure none of these incidents should be read as incipient dementia. It's just, as the video says, age-activated attention deficit disorder. Nothing to do but live with it.