Sunday, December 18, 2016

Derailments

I pop a piece of buttered bread into the microwave. Out of habit I push the one-minute default button even though it only needs 10 seconds.

After twenty seconds, the microwave is still running, and my husband sheepishly--because I hate for him to tell me what to do in the kitchen--suggests I shouldn't leave it in that long. I casually turn and try to hide my reaction because I actually forgot I had put the bread in the microwave. When I admit this to my husband, he is understanding and says, "If you think that's bad, I'll tell you what I did yesterday if you promise not to laugh."

He recalls, "I was getting ready to leave my office and I kept reminding myself to remember my laptop. By the time I got to the car and drove a block towards home, I remembered I'd forgotten the laptop. I turned around, drove back, parked the car, and walked up the three flights of stairs to my office. I walked in and attended to another task. When it was completed, I walked to my car, reached the car and remembered I had forgotten the laptop again.

Tony and I blame this behavior on brain overload. Just like an overloaded circuit, a breaker blows and instantaneously, we forget the simplest things like taking bread out of the microwave.

Our second excuse is aging.

Marylou Weisman wrote that after the age of 30, the brain loses about 100,000 neurons a day. "These nerve cells tend to take the car keys with them and leave important things behind. There are two basic kinds of forgetting: Losing one's train of thought and losing the passengers on one's train of thought. Losing one's train is caused by a sudden mass defection of neurons. One moment you're moving purposefully toward your destination. The next you're standing stupidly in the doorway mentally derailed, 'What did I come in here for?' At least losing one's train is almost always a private act."

Postscript: Tony and I go to lunch and purchase a loaf of French bread for dinner that night. After lunch, he drops me off at my car which is parked right next to the bank. I have to deposit a check, so I enter the bank with the loaf in hand. Finished with business, I drive home. An hour later, I can't remember bringing the bread into the house. I check the car and realize I left the bread at the bank. A phone call confirms my suspicions and the bank will leave the bread at the drive-thru window for Tony to pick up on his way home--maybe.

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