1998 SENSE AND NONSENSE by Doris Ray

As I approach my junior-senior citizen-hood (I’m about to enter the sixth decade of my life) I find myself blaming most shortcomings on the fact that I am now youthfully deprived. Especially my poor memory. The truth is I cannot recall ever having much of a memory. Even as a kid I had the uncanny ability to devour the contents of an entire book and, almost immediately, forget what the plot was all about.

This has been pretty exasperating especially when it came to mystery novels of which I have read zillions. (At least I THINK I have?) Halfway through a suspenseful whodunit I realize that the storyline is familiar. I am faced with the dilemma of whether to carry on–like Captain Scott on his epic journey to the South Pole–despite the bitter knowledge that I am not treading these pages for the very first time. Or else return the book to the public library. (If I haven’t yet recalled who the villain is, there’s always the option of sneaking a peek at the final pages.)

There have been times in my life when insignificant trivia drifts past and attaches itself to my brain like a barnacle, never to be removed to make room for more useful data. For instance I can recite (in my sleep) a poem from a fifth-grade reader that begins:

“God bless our wide Dominion/ Our fathers’ chosen land/ And bind in lasting union/ Each ocean’s distant strand…”

I was puffed up like an adder just now, whilst writing out those profound lines. Then my word processor humbled and humiliated me by insisting that there is only one “o” in the word “ocean’s”. When did they change that…??

My friend Audrey tells me that our memories do not necessarily fail us as we grow older. It is only our recall that deteriorates. I’m sure she’s right. The minute I turned fifty I lost the ability to pick peoples’ names out from the dusty files that clutter my brain. For awhile I used mental imagery. The trick was to associate the person whose name you wished to remember, with a specific item. The mental image of that item should trigger your sluggish brain into zeroing in on the person’s name whenever you were in need of it.

To impress the image into your subconscious (which is the smart part of the human mind) you picture the item dangling from the person’s nose. For instance “Ray”might suggest a poisonous fish or ( if you liked me) a glint of sunshine gleaming off my proboscis.

The problem now is that I have reached a stage in my life (it’s perfectly normal they tell me) where I cannot recall what item it was that I had pictured dangling from whose nose. I once confused ex-mayor John Backhouse of Prince George with Michael J. Fox. The furry creature quickly became lost in that mustache and after viewing “Spin City”, the tiny building beneath Michael’s nose seemed oddly appropriate…

That’s a lie! I still love Michael J. from his other T.V. sitcom – whatever its name was?

Perhaps age is not the culprit after all. Although I eat a lot of vitamins and herbs that are purported to improve my mind’s retentiveness, my memory is not as sharp as my ninety-three year old Native Indian friend’s.

When I asked her why, she said, “The trouble with you white people is that you eat too much sugar. It makes your brains sticky.”

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