I hurried out the front door the other morning, locked it and then stood in confounded silence for a few moments.
The car wasn’t waiting for me in front of the house. Where the heck did I leave it?
I don’t have “senior moments.” That’s one of those precious terms made up by somebody in his 30s who thinks older people like to be treated like preschoolers.
You know the type. They usually work in nursing homes in charge of making up undignified things for old people to do for “fun,” and the inmates have to do it because they can’t run that fast anymore.
(“All I’m saying is those who do participate in the holiday karaoke contest will be getting an extra pudding tonight.”)
I also don’t have senior moments because then I’d have to acknowledge that I’ve joined the AARP set, and I see no profit in that. Not now, perhaps not ever. (Well, maybe, if there’s a pension at stake or a really big senior discount.)
I thought about these things — and about Dan Quayle’s once saying, “What a terrible thing to have lost one’s mind. Or not to have a mind at all” — as I walked all the way to the next intersection and peered down the side street. No sign of the car there.
So I turned around and walked the other way, all the while panicking as I craned to see if the car was up ahead. Did someone steal the car? Did I park it illegally, and now it’s been towed and impounded?
I did recall that I’d driven around the block a couple of times looking for a spot, not an unusual event in my neighborhood where parking is at a premium on weeknights after 5.
I didn’t relish the idea of having to tell my wife that I’d lost the car. That couldn’t possibly turn out well.
She and I have this little pact. We can’t both lose our minds, but it’s all right if one of us does because the other will take care of him or her.
It’s meant as our little joke, but there is an underlying disquiet when it comes up because the possibility is too real. (The Alzheimer’s Association says that 5.4 million people in this country are living with Alzheimer’s disease — one in eight older Americans, and 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with dementias.)
Remember that scene in the film “Away from Her,” where Julie Christie, cleaning up after dinner, deposits a skillet in the freezer as though that’s exactly where it belongs?
Well, I haven’t misplaced a frying pan that I can recall, but evidently I have no problem losing something a lot bigger.
Usually it’s just names that I lose, and in that respect I’m in good company.
In its front-page obituary last week on the writer and film director Nora Ephron, The New York Times carried this quotation from “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” her 2006 best-seller:
“Why do people write books that say it’s better to be older than to be younger? It’s not better. Even if you have all your marbles, you’re constantly reaching for the name of the person you met the day before yesterday.”
On a happier note, I found the car. It was almost a full block away, and it was crouching behind a van so I couldn’t see it — though that’s probably just me anthropomorphizing again.
Anyhow, I won’t have to tell Beverly that while she was away I lost the car. Briefly.
It can be our little secret.
Irv Dean is the Gazette’s city editor. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach him at [email protected].