Progress Report 8

Brian J. Sullivan

Don't you just hate it when an advertiser's jingle keeps repeating itself over and over and over in your head? "A-r-m-o-u-r hot dogs...the dogs kids love to eat" has been playing on and off in my head for well over 30 years. I don't even like hot dogs much less "A-r-m-o-u-r hot dogs...the dogs kids love to eat." More disturbing is that this commercial has been off the air for more than 20 years. I can't control it or make it stop. Do you hear it too? Maybe if you place your ear next to mine you'll hear it playing inside my head. Quickly, come close and listen; it's playing now. "A-r-m-o-u-r hot dogs...the dogs kids love to eat." I don't even know if these are the correct words to the jingle or an amalgamation I made up. And I don't even know the whole song, as if completing it would some how end this incessant loop. Could this be a symptom of Alzheimer's? Equally disturbing is that each morning I stand next to the bathtub and can't remember if I'm getting in or out of the shower, while humming: "A-r-m-o-u-r hot dogs...the dogs kids love to eat."

With another birthday approaching, I've noticed that I've become an old curmudgeon of the worst kind. Another year older. Another "Hallmark" occasion to celebrate. First it was a few hairs in the bathtub drain, then a few more, and finally clumps. Then there's the loss of hearing, blurred vision, dentures, arthritis, loss of friends, and being left behind by the "tech" revolution. Heck, at my age, just getting up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom (four times) is reason to celebrate! I guess I could always swallow my pride and wear adult diapers. I mean, who would really know anyway, except maybe the cashier at the grocery store. Maybe I could get them delivered in an unmarked box wrapped in brown paper. However, I refuse to be fitted for a male bra. I can see it now, standing in my silky boxers (the ones with the cute little red hearts on them) in front of a three-way mirror in some department store's dressing room, trying to get the correct bra size. A young and patient sales clerk, more embarrassed than I am, hands me different ones to try on. The big issue becomes that of style versus comfort. The choices are overwhelming. Do I want one that will lift and separate, have extra padding, be machine washable, be wearable for 24 hours, or be of the sports type, etc? What about my distinguished silver chest hairs? Will I have to shave? How often?

And with each birthday comes the customary question of "how old are you?" With the advancing of age it's been harder and harder to remember, necessitating recalculating each time I'm asked, even if it was just five minutes ago since the last time I figured it out. With age comes experience, like not playing golf during a thunder storm, or sticking your tongue to a metal pole in the middle of winter (took me two tries to learn that one).

I also need to mention the confectionery of pills I take throughout the day. "There are red ones, blue ones, big ones, small ones," says Dr. Seuss. Each must be taken at a certain time each day, so I have neatly separated them into little bowls along the counter. Nearby, on a coffee table, I keep a bowl of M&Ms, just like my grandpa used to do (in case the grandkids come by). I sure hope they don't take my pills by mistake.

Over the years I have developed certain routines, one of which is to eat on schedule. This reminds me, it's time for lunch. I'll think I'll try some hot dogs. "A-r-m-o-u-r hot dogs...the dogs kids love to eat."