Henry Kissinger, Jerry Orbach, County Kerry, capers. This is my mantra to assure myself that I'm not afflicted with "the ol' timers." There's one more, but I can't remember what it is.
This mantra was born the day that Bill asked me, "What's the name of the curly headed German guy with glasses who was the, ah, the Secretary of State guy?" "Oh, yeah, I can see his face." I went through my alphabet game, trying to visualize the name as I said each letter. "It has some k's or maybe m's." A chill zipped down my spine - nothing, nada, nope. Usually the answer swims into my murky recollection like the answers in that Magic 8 Ball fortune teller thing. A week later, I still didn't have the guy's named until Bill marched into the room with, "Kissinger! Henry Kissinger!" We don't cheat and use our cell phones; we really try to dredge up the answer.
Yikes, are we sliding into our dotage? No! Some words have always been illusive for me. I can remember the character that Jerry Orbach played on "Law and Order" - Lenny Briscoe. Lenny's birthday was January 2, 1940. But, I've always had trouble pulling up Orbach's name. "What are those little green things?" Bill asked. I needed more than that. "You know," with irritation, "those round green things they put into those salty little fish." OK, now we have two mysteries. Capers! Capers bounced into my head.
I can remember my childhood phone number - 213-789-4604, and my private number in my room when I was 16 - 213-986-7232. I can remember that Lizabeth Scott glowed in "Pitfall" with Dick Powell. I can remember blue-footed boobies, the turning radius lock-to-lock of my '69 MGB-GT and can sing the words to all of Fleetwood Mac's songs, but I forget why I walked into a room.
This is not age, mind you; this is because I have so many stories caroming around in my head. I'm a writer. The world invades my thoughts with possible fodder for interesting pieces, like when I'm sitting in my car at a stoplight and lose track of where I'm going when the light flips green. I'm not exactly stopping strangers pleading, "Can you tell me where I am?" And, "Why am I here?" only happens when I race out of my office to do something really important then forget why I'm in the kitchen. My high-powered TV producer friend in Los Angeles told me the car thing happens to him, too. He crackled with enthusiasm for an app (oh, lord, now I'm sharing apps!) called Waze. He uses it to navigate the alleys, drive-thrus and new streets in the city in which he has lived for his 64 years. When he finds himself Zenning out on Pacific Coast Highway to Steely Dan tapes, he can call up Waze to help him get to - well - wherever. Which reminds me; didn't our parents drill us on all the streets within a mile radius of our homes so we wouldn't get lost? I remember the street names of my childhood. I know the name of the street on which we live now and one cross street. I have no clue what any of the other streets are around my neighborhood, and we walk the dog on them twice a day - every day. My neighbor assured me that he doesn't either, and he's lived in his home for 20 years. "It's the Garmin," he said. Everyone has one so we don't have to give directions anymore. Whew!
Computer programs like Luminosity claim to help fend off senility with "fast-twitch" brain games. They are designed to amp up cognitive skills by displaying a series of images to identify, then they add more and speed up the display. This forces your brain to learn to respond more quickly. I'm pretty good at "slow-twitch" - dragging obscure information out of the dusky attic in my head. I do pretty well at crossword puzzles. No time trials there. To force the graying gray matter to step it up sounded good, so I attempted the free trials. Time pressure made me sweat. Coupled with not understanding the instructions caused frustration and anxiety. I don't do instructions. I am a trial-and-error button pusher. So, how to put the spurs to my dawdling brain?
The concept is to get the eye to give the brain something to which it must process with speed, right? I decided to mix that with exercise. The "Y" has a racquetball court with racquets and balls one can borrow. I set my own pace, let the ball bounce as many times as I want, just as long as I keep a rally going. Forehand, backhand, where's that ball going and where does my racquet need to be to smack that sucker? I love it. I burst past my original 15-minute threshold and have advanced to a more reliable backhand and longer rallies. I stride out of the court well exercised and feeling the power of being sporty. Yes, Virginia, I do remember how sporty feels.
You are reading Mature Lifestyles so I sound like you, right? We aren't losing it; our brains are busy with all of our current interests compounded with being stuffed with fascinating histories. Let's do all the mind "bench press" activities, but also take the time to be so our brain doesn't have to scurry like a gerbil in a wheel. Lists are good, too. Oh, I remember the other item in the mantra - flax seed! I can never remember flax seed.
Candace Wade wrote the book "Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw." She has contributed to Horse Nation, Mature Lifestyles, Riding and Writing, The Tennessean and is a member of American Horse Publications. Candace writes political diatribe, wrote "Hillary's View" pet column and four unpublished film scripts. She learned to ride at age 46 and still rides at 59+.