Columns » Ranger Rich

Age takes its toll



I couldn't find my cell phone. I'd just walked into the house from the driveway and couldn't remember where I put it. I had it maybe a minute earlier. This was really starting to bother me.

This morning I took eight freshly laundered socks from the dryer, blended them neatly together in four pairs and headed down the hallway toward my bedroom dresser to tuck them away in the drawer where they have lived for many years, dear and close neighbors to my underwear.

And then I walked right past the bedroom door. Seconds later I found myself heading for the kitchen, my head cocked slightly to the side as my feet slowed and I wondered why I was approaching the sink. I looked down at my hands and Jesus H. Christ, I was still holding the socks!

Was I going to put the socks in the oven? In the refrigerator, perhaps? A month ago, I put a dish towel not over the handle of the refrigerator, where it belongs, but in the freezer. I opened the door and put the towel in the goddamn freezer, right next to the frozen orange juice.

Today I proudly report I have lost my mind.

I remembered taking the cell phone off the console of my SUV out in the driveway. I was sure I'd stuffed it into my shirt pocket, but it wasn't there. I looked on the table near the front door. Nothing. I glanced at the kitchen counter. Damn cell phone disappeared.

The mind-loss signals swirl all about me, small flashes of What The Hell Was I Just Thinking? dancing regularly with moments of Did I Feed The Cats An Hour Ago, Or Was That Yesterday? (If there is any doubt, I feed them again. Today we have two cats that appear to be inflated with helium.)

Not long ago, I sang out "How is my John today?" in a cute, loving, childlike voice.

John is my younger son and asking how he's doing is not a bad question at all. The problem was that I was in the garage at the time and looking at one of our dogs, whose name is Moose. Sheesh.

Where was my $%^&*# cell phone? I'd just had it a second ago. It had to be here someplace ...

I'll be 54 next week. I saw in the Denver Post a story about a new study by a University of Virginia professor indicating the peak age for mental prowess is 22, and that by 27 our brain speed and puzzle-solving skills begin to decline. And get this our memory starts to flounder at 37.

I think it was the Denver Post. It might have been on CNN. I think it was in People. Shit.

The point is, I'm almost 54 and the study says the memory neurons start misfiring at 37 and, well, I'm guessing my memory isn't going to get any better. This will only increase the number of jokes at my expense delivered by my son Moose. Or John.

It's not just the mental thing. My body is falling apart faster than a Ted Haggard story. I've been seeing a friend and great chiropractor for a week now, after injuring my back in a violent, extreme-sport sort of way that involved using a staple gun to stick a sheet of paper onto plywood. That was before an incredibly manly and strenuous watercolor painting class my wife and I have been taking at the Bemis School of Art here in our village.

Don't even get me started on how for the past two years at exactly 5:30 a.m., every single goddamn day, seven days a week, 365 days a year I've heard the loud, obnoxious crowing of a rooster out in the rural area where I live. I think I wake him up when I flush the toilet.

Oh, about that missing cell phone. I searched the house for a couple of minutes and even went out into the driveway, unlocked my vehicle and looked inside for it. Not a trace.

Turns out and even an idiot like me wouldn't make up a thing like this about himself all the time I was searching frantically for my cell phone I was talking to my lovely wife.

On my cell phone.

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