Body, Mind, Stories
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I Wish I Could Forget My Memory Lapses

My friends and I have started to lose our memories. Not in a drastic, “Where do I live again?” type of way. Or even in a milder, “Ohhh, my bra goes on the inside of my shirt” type of way. We’ve just started to have a few memory  — lapses.

Like when I was telling my friend Jane a story about an old job of mine, and it was making her laugh until I said, “So I asked my boss John… shit, what was his last name again?” and then we had to suffer through a two-minute lull while I looked up at the ceiling and she looked down at her fingernails before I finally huffed, “GAWD, never mind.” Jane didn’t care about this interruption, but I did because trying to remember that guy’s name totally wrecked the flow of my anecdote. And it’d been a good anecdote up until that point. Maybe one of my best.

But what I’ve come to realize is that these pauses that happen when women of a certain age try to recall something, like a date, a name, or a movie, are basically unwanted commercial breaks. Only in these cases, the listener can’t always run to the bathroom or grab a snack while we’re racking our brains trying to remember something stupid like the year we saw Michael Bolton and Kenny G together in concert. (It was 1995. Two women fainted.) (I wasn’t one of them.)

These pauses that happen when women of a certain age try to recall something… are basically unwanted commercial breaks.

This loss of total recall is a part of getting older, of course, but our generation’s brains also contain an overload of information that’s never before been experienced by anyone. Now our grey matter is not only swarming with 40+ years of everything we need and want to know, but valuable space is also being taken up by jackass internet things. Like posts on Facebook and Instagram about people we barely know. Or tweets written by idiots. Or the YouTube make-up tutorial I clicked on one night when I was watching George Michael videos, drinking Chardonnay and crying. It makes me crazy because I don’t want that stuff in my head, but I can’t stop it from getting in there and pushing out the good stuff.  I can no longer tell you the name of the high school PE teacher who yelled at me when I popped the school dodge ball, but I can definitely tell you how to contour your big nose for “maximum glam power!”

While it’s upsetting that I can’t immediately bring to mind things I could just last year, my bigger concern is that these lapses are just a huge waste of time.  And time is something I don’t have a lot to spare, based on my last facial where my millennial esthetician threw the word “crepey” around willy nilly. (That’s how your tip goes from 15% to 2%, Ashleigh.)

I’ve lost hours trying to remember things like the name of the movie “Margaret what’s-her-name” starred in with “that one guy, you know who I mean? Larry?” Last year, I bought a novel at the used book store, read half of it, then found one of my receipts in the pages and realized I’d not only read before, but I’d donated it to the used book store and bought it back without realizing it. To be fair, it wasn’t a very memorable story. 

Because I don’t want this type of thing to happen again, I’m trying something new: I’m asking my friends to slap me whenever I have a memory lapse.

I don’t mean to literally slap me. God knows my crepey skin couldn’t take that. Rather, I want people to slap me verbally. Like if I’m saying, “You have to try this great restaurant in Seattle called… hmmm… hold on…it’ll come to me…it starts with a Ph … or maybe a Th…”, instead waiting for me to figure it out, yell, “STOP IT, DUMMY” and I’ll know to move on. Then, when the name of the restaurant finally does pop into my head at 4 a.m., I’ll just text it to whoever else is awake, staring at the ceiling and reevaluating her life’s choices. 

Besides “STOP IT, DUMMY” I’ll also accept “PASS” “MOVE ON” “WHO CARES” and any and all raspberry sounds. If there’s an air horn in your purse, use it. Still know how to do an armpit fart? Go for it.  Whack me out of my memory lapse, and I’ll promise to do the same to you. It’s only fair. Because while we may be crepey, spacey and unable to tell you the breed of the dog we had in grade school, we’re also hell bent on doing everything we can to fill our brains with even better and bigger memories. 

That we’ll then promptly forget.

Filed under: Body, Mind, Stories

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Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. In the past few years, she has written for a number of publications including McSweeneys, and for Esther’s Follies, Austin’s famous comedy revue. She has been has also been a commentator on Austin’s NPR station, KUT. Wendi is one of the creators of Mouthy Housewives and the much-lauded twitter feed @paulryangosling. She is also a writer for US Weekly magazine’s Fashion Police.

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