Last night there was a major breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimers. What? No, there isn’t some new medicine, or the announcement that we all now need to eat six pounds of asparagus a day, or anything like that. Come on. No, no, what happened was, I was able to remember the name of the actor who played Bilbo in Lord of the Rings, and Napoleon in Time Bandits.
Phew, I know, right?
Ian Holm, by the way.
So what brought this on? Well, the other day I was on a long drive. I had to transport M and a couple friends up to the Portland airport, which is about three, three and a half hours away. Why, one might wonder, would we go to an airport three hours away instead of the airport about twenty-five minutes away? Because sometimes the Internet is an awful, awful place.
Anyway, I got very little sleep the night before, drove everyone up, turned around and was headed back. About two hours in to the return trip, I was muttering to myself about how many more towns there were to drive through before I was home, when suddenly… I couldn’t remember the name of the little, tiny town coming up. Total blank. Now, a less prudent individual might have simply thought, “Wow, I’m tired and have been driving all day.” But luckily, I was able to recognize that obviously, I was getting very OLD, and my brain was starting to turn in to OATMEAL.
I became very, very determined to remember the name of this town. It was a mission. This town is not hidden in a hole, it isn’t somewhere I’ve never been – I really, really know the name of this town. But it was a total blank.
I tried my usual trick for remember something – which has never worked, ever, not even once – which basically involves pushing really hard, as though my brain needs to excrete the elusive term, and/or saying things like, “Now that I’ve passed through Madras, I sure hope I can remember this word before I get to the next town of… ggggg… nnnn…bbbb… DAMN IT!”
The best I could come up with was “Antler” which I knew was my brain just taking pity on me and throwing me something. Antler. Come on. That’s almost worse. You can practically hear the conversation.
Me: Come on, grandkids, we’re going to Smith Rock out in Antler.
Grandchild 1: There’s no town called Antler, grampa.
Me: What?? What happened to Antler? Was it terrorists??
Grandchild 2: I think you mean the town of –
Me: Duck and cover, kids! You hide while grampa gets his ammunition and banana bread!
Grandchild 2: You mean shotgun?
Me: Shotgun? Right! That’s what I meant! My shotgun! Got to protect the banana bread from the terrorists!
Grandchild 1: When can we go home, grampa?
So I wasn’t able to come up with the name of the town. Failure. Ignominous. Heart-breaking. As I passed in to the town’s limits and saw the “welcome to” sign, I felt defeated.
The name of the town, it turned out, was “Ian Holm.” I kid, I kid. It was “Terrebonne.” Sure, anTlER/TERrebonne, but that’s pretty desperate as far as attributing logic to my brain’s process.
Since then, I’ve been assigning every pause and hesitation in remembering a word or name as signs that I’m falling apart by the moment. So, last night a friend and I went and saw that ‘One Night Only’ theatrical re-release of Fellowship of the Ring. On the way home I was trying to remember the name of the guy who plays Bilbo. To no avail, I tried my usual trick – “He was also in Alien. Alien came out in 1979. It starred Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton and… vvvv… ssss… rrrrr… DAMN IT!” (it apparently didn’t comfort me that I remembered everyone else who was in the film).
Then, of course, I did what you’re supposed to do, and thought about something else for a moment and, like magic, “Holmes… Holm! IAN HOLM!” And there was much celebration between me and my brain.
And so I’m feeling much better now, doing crossword puzzles and eating six pounds of asparagus, just in case, but feeling much more confident. And so long as I don’t forget anything ever again as long as I live, I shall remain calm. As calm as… that guy… the guy who sits there smiling… he’s wise, it’s eastern… the Dalai Lama is the reincarnated form of this person called… thththhth… fffff….llll…