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The Great Story Of … Wait … I Forgot What It Was

The Great Story Of … Wait … I Forgot What It Was

By Dave Price

As a new member of the Over 65 Club, I think everyone younger than me (and that’s a whole lot of people) should come up with a plan to remember things. In fact, I strongly suggest you design that plan as soon as you finish reading this article.

That way, you won’t forget.

Now I know what many of you are saying: I don’t need a plan … my memory will always stay sharp and focused. Well, I felt that way once, too. But I was so much younger then – say like 63 or 64.

Now however, like the Ancient Mariner of the famous Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem or the lone surviving whaler called Ishmael in the classic novel Moby Dick, I have returned to offer you a warning.

My cautionary tale begins with a move from Washington, DC to Atlanta, Georgia.

When my wife Judy and I moved, we knew we would have to find many new things – like restaurants, and bookstores, and especially, at our age, doctors.

So early in our relocation we went for a first visit to our new doctor, whose office was located in a large medical building about two miles from our Atlanta Perimeter apartment. We parked in the free five-story garage, proceeded to the doctor’s office in the complex, completed forms, signed up for an appointment, and headed back to the garage.

However, then came a disturbing first for us – we forgot where we had parked.

But how bad could that be? I mean it should be easier to find a car than it would be the car keys to start it, right? And we definitely had those. In fact, we had two sets.

We began to walk around, asking each other questions like – which level was it on (I don’t know), what letter was the area designated (I don’t know) why didn’t you pay attention to where we parked (I don’t know – why didn’t you) and why didn’t I marry someone else (I don’t know, but right now I sure wish I had).

WRITER’S NOTE: The above sentence has been strongly sanitized so that readers of all ages and religious beliefs can learn from this cautionary tale.

For the first five minutes or so, I considered this a great adventure. My wife, who is the serious, stable one in our 44-year-marriage, didn’t find any humor in our situation.

Knowing how she can be, I stopped whistling “Does Anyone Know Where My Doggie Has Gone?” and decided to intensify my search attitude. After about 15 minutes of that approach, my mind wondered again and for some reason I began thinking about the early 60s TV show “Car 54, Where Are You?”

I suggested we split up. That way we could cover more ground. Also, I wouldn’t have to face those accusing looks my wife kept giving me.

So Judy headed one way and I headed the other.

I figured if I found the car I would just call her and tell her where it was. She could do the same. But, after a few minutes of searching, I remembered that my wife is the type of person who never wants to inconvenience anyone. She always keeps her cell phone on vibrate so it won’t ring loudly. I knew her phone was in her pocketbook. There was absolutely no way she would hear me if I called.

Once in a while during my solo search, I would spot someone getting into their vehicle to leave. Now in my brief stay in the South I had found Southerners, or at least Georgians, to be extremely hospitable. I considered approaching one of them and explaining the situation.

But even a man with a missing car has some pride.

I mean I couldn’t bring myself to approach a total stranger and proclaim: “Look, I promise I’m not a weirdo and/or a psycho killer, but I have lost my car and my wife. Would you please drive me around and around in this garage until I can find one or the other or preferably both?”

Finally, I saw my wife headed back my way. But she was walking, not driving our missing Toyota.

By now it was clear this search wasn’t going well at all. And we were on a deadline. We were supposed to pick our grandkids up in a hour. I suggested we should retrace our steps and enter the garage from where we drove in.

We went all the way back to the driveway we had pulled in from. Then we discovered something we hadn’t realized – there were actually two five-story parking garages. Maybe we had been searching the wrong one.

We entered the unsearched garage, quickly found our car on the second level, and drove off.

On the way back to our apartment, it dawned on me that even though I didn’t feel that old, apparently I was becoming old. Like in old enough to lose a parked car.

So a few days later, when my wife had to go to our local hospital for a routine series of X-Rays, I was ready.

Immediately, after exiting the car, I took a picture of our location. And a picture of the letter of our parking section. I even took a picture of our car, just in case I forgot what it looked like.

We easily found the X-Ray center and while I waited for my wife to finish, I struck up a conversation with an older Georgia woman sitting next to me.

“Would you believe I’m 92?” she asked. “A lot of things don’t work so well anymore, but I’ll say one thing – my mind is still sharp as a tack. I can remember things that happened 80 years ago like yesterday. And I can remember yesterday like it was yesterday. Of course, it was yesterday. I guess good memory just runs in my family. My mother lived until she was 104 and never forgot anything. My children, even my oldest boy who is 72, remember just like I do”.

I was just about ready to ask my new friend if she was open to some gene swapping so I could regain memory prowess when Judy appeared.

We headed out, but then our new-found, forgetting-things problem struck again. Neither of us could remember the proper exit out of the hospital to get to the garage.

As a male, I have always refused to ask directions. It’s the manly thing to do. But this time, I buried my pride. I asked a nurse. I asked a volunteer. I asked an orderly. I asked a patient in a wheel chair. I even asked a mother and her four young children, all of whom simply nodded and smiled sweetly since apparently they didn’t speak English.

Now I’m pleased to report that with all that help, Judy and I did find our way out of the hospital. The trip through the parking lot to our car was a breeze. I didn’t even have to consult my phone.

But I was still plagued by this new idea that I could forget things.

On our way home, I stopped at our local Publix. I hurried into the supermarket and picked up the largest bag of bread crumbs I could buy.

I had a new plan, a plan that really was an old, old plan. Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel. They dropped breadcrumbs along the way so they could find their way back home. If we were ever in a new, unfamiliar environment, Judy and I could do the same.

But then I thought – what if the birds or the squirrels devour our breadcrumbs? Or a street cleaner sweeps them up? And Hansel and Gretel were young. What if bread crumbs only worked for young people?

I guess if any of that happens I’ll have to resort to asking the nice 92-year-old lady I met in the hospital about that gene-swapping idea.

But then there’s a problem with that, too.

You see, I can’t remember her email and I forgot where I put her phone number. And I don’t think all the bread crumbs in all the Publix stores in all of America can help me with that.

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Dave Price operates a freelance writing/speaking/consulting/tour guiding practice in Washington, D.C., where he focuses on 3 topics – the Baby Boomer generation, classic rock, and issues on aging, especially those affecting men. A former journalist and educator, Price is researching 2 books, one on the status of classic rock music and its songs, performers, and fans today and the other a DC guidebook designed especially for Baby Boomers.

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