Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Old? Good Gravy, Yes!

Eh? Whadja say?

I’ve started to lose my hearing, my eyesight, my memory, some balance, some strength, and a lot of hair (the stuff on the top of my cranium that is. If I could somehow get my head hair to grow the way my eyebrows do, I’d look like a big ol’ hairy yak).

How I might look after a successful eyebrow-to-scalp hair transplant.

♫ When I get older losing my hair,
As I am right now,
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Even though my head has a shine? ♪

On the other hand, I have gained a few things in my old age; weight, gray hairs, wrinkles, liver spots, and varicose veins.

I’m assuming that my mental faculties will not improve with age. I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my time, but as Randy Bachman said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”.

I can look forward to doing things like my wife’s grandmother (bless her heart) did while preparing dinner for her family. With diminished eyesight and judgment, she mistook icing sugar for flour while making gravy. When the roast beef and mashed potatoes on every plate was covered with gravy, the family enjoyed a rare meal where the main course was sweeter than the dessert.

In order to combat the effects of aging on the few brain cells that remain, it’s important that I do some mental exercises. A Wikipedia article on the subject suggests that “Attempting to memorize a grocery list before someone goes to the store is easy and beneficial for the brain”.

I could try that, but usually by the time I find my wallet and car keys, I’ve forgotten where I was planning to go in the first place.

Even writing things down on a grocery list doesn’t always help. I like to use abbreviations on the list, thinking “I’ll remember what that means”. HA! I once had BS down on the list. I went back and forth through that store, scouring the aisles for anything that BS could have meant; breakfast sausages, bean soup, brown sugar, bread sticks, body soap, bird seed, and so on. Several days later when I needed baking soda, I gave my forehead a much needed slap.

From the same Wikipedia essay we have “A simple way to arouse the brain is by using the opposite, or non-dominant, hand. For tasks such as eating, brushing teeth, dialing the phone, using an iPod...”.

Again, I could try those things, but I’m so uncoordinated with my left hand that I would be in danger of stabbing my face with a fork, brushing my nostrils, and dialing a number in Ethiopia. Forget the iPod. The evidence is clear that using a hand-held device (regardless of which hand you use) likely decreases blood flow to the brain.

The article goes on to say “Incorporating as many of the five senses as possible into everyday activities can stimulate the brain. Getting dressed with the eyes closed, listening to music while smelling the flowers and the surrounding nature, and watching clouds while playing with modeling clay, are all simple ways to exercise the mind by using many senses at once”.

This is true and is well-known in today’s lexicon as “multitasking”. The greatest of all multitasking exercises is to get dressed with your eyes closed while listening to music, smelling flowers, playing with clay, and watching clouds (with your eyes still closed). Remember to do this in your own backyard as you could get arrested for indecent exposure if you attempted this in a public place.

Here is a funny bit by a comedian by the name of Sean Morey. Similar words to these have been making the rounds on the Internet and have been attributed to George Carlin, Woody Allen, and others. But it was Mr. Morey who wrote it and presented it on The Tonight Show in 1980:

I think the most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death! What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work for forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement! You go to college, you do drugs, alcohol, you party, you have sex, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating.... You finish off as a gleam in somebody’s eye.

Where was I? Oh yeah, — brain exercises. Now where did I put that book of crosswords? Ah, forget it. I’ll watch TV instead.

Where’s that damned remote?


  1. There's much too much truth in what you've written. Are we just kidding ourselves by trying to exercise our gray matter? I dunno, but I do know I keep reading thought-provoking material, and working difficult puzzles as fast as I can, as though they were some magical fix, like treading mental water to keep me above senility. Even though most of us laugh when we go into a room, do a dozen things, and then leave without doing the one thing we went in there to do... or when we forget someone's name, or where we put something important for "safe-keeping"... I think most of us are laughing to hide the fear that a simple lapse in memory could be the start of something far worse. Art Linkletter said that old age ain't for sissies, and he wasn't just a-whistling Dixie. (Damn it.)

    1. Art Linkletter was great. And obviously a pretty tough dude (by his definition). He lived to be 97.

  2. That is a very funny story about your wife's grandmother. A neighbour of ours once took her mother (in her late 80's at the time)to Swiss Chalet where she used that little dish with lemon in it as the dipping sauce for her chicken. Sad but funny all at the same time! Very funny post. There is certainly nothing "old" about your witty sense of humour!

    1. And when I'm in my 80's (if I'm fortunate enough to make it that far) I'll probably use dipping sauce to clean my fingers. Thanks Angie.

  3. Still funny! And the getting old and the eyes! For god sake you should see the font size on my text messaging. Another few years it will be one letter per screen! In the words of my grandmother "och well". At least we're on the right side of the dirt!

  4. And to think I used to thread a needle without eyeglasses. I couldn't be more inept today if I tried to do it blindfolded while wearing oven mitts.