Navigating the Bridge to Nowhere

Posted on July 16, 2012


The aging brain is like a GPS.  You know where you are headed, and your brain appears to be perfectly capable of sending you there. But you notice with increasing frequency that you are told to make a right turn, then, when you do, to make a U-turn. You may ultimately get where you want to go, but the party might be over, and all the lights will be out at the house and your friends will be pissed off at you for not showing up.  So if you have just opened your refrigerator and wondered why you didn’t see your deodorant or toothbrush sitting on the shelf, you may find the following tips handy:

1. Start calling everyone Sweetie or Honey.  Your children and /or partner may not know who you are speaking to but they will be secretly flattered. Everyone else will believe they are somehow special in your life. Do not try this with anyone who has stopped you for speeding or with an IRS agent.

2. The children and grandchildren of friends can be referred to as “the babies” until age five.  After that, “the little ones” until middle school.  After that, you don’t want to talk about them anyway.

3. Don’t fret about details in stories.  If necessary collapse several stories into one, so as to make an interesting whole and allow yourself to participate in conversations.  Your listener has never been to wherever/whatever you are describing, anyway, because it doesn’t exist. For example, if someone mentions Napa, and you say “Oh Napa, I loved it. The food and wine were incredible and we took a helicopter ride into the volcano,” and someone points out that there is no volcano in Napa, say, “That was back in the 70s.  It’s not there anymore.” If they are your age, not only won’t they challenge you, they will probably say, “I wish I had been there back then,” or “I wish we had known about that when we were there.”

4. Refer to all politicians as “Our Governor” or “Our Senator” or  “Our President.” If you think you don’t like them, say it with an edge to your voice.

5. The question, “What book are you reading now?” can be answered with, “Oh how I wish it were just one book!  I read several at a time.  I’ll send you the list.” Don’t say “I just read this book by the woman who wrote that book about that ship that sank in Iceland or the North Pole or Northern Jersey or somewhere like that but it wasn’t the Titanic.”

6. The question, “What movie did you see last night?” can be answered with “Oh my, you don’t want to know.  Complete waste.  I refuse to talk about it.”  Don’t say, “I saw a film last night starring that guy who was in that TV show about a hospital and that other guy had worms coming out of his leg.”

7. When you are confronted with what is sometimes referred to as a “brain fart” but is becoming increasing more like a brain coma, and it’s like the GPS screen has gone blank and all of the street signs have disappeared and the roads start going in all crazy directions and you find yourself in the Exact Change lane but you don’t have the exact change or even know where your wallet is, don’t panic. Instead, just stop whatever you are doing, even if it’s in mid-sentence, and