Brian J. Sullivan
I am approaching what society has termed the "golden years." Our three children have all moved out of the house and are raising families of their own. My wife and I are both semi-retired. Our house and car are paid for. I still feel and look good but the mind has begun its slow decline with more reoccurring forgetfulness and wandering thoughts. Our culture even has a name for this malady which they call "senior moments."
At first I blamed my forgetfulness and silly actions on the many years of contact with art materials such as turpentine, mineral spirits, soldering flux and lead paints. At the time, no one talked about the dangers or the toxicity of these materials. So I asked myself: are these memory lapses chemically induced or natural aging? I do not know, maybe it's a combination of the two.
At first I thought it was funny, but now, with more regular occurrences, the "senior moments" punch line is wearing thin. Oh, it's not that anyone makes fun of me, or even notices the mindless things I do; it's all self-imposed frustration.
As I've aged, I have developed habits and routines to help me cope with this "senior" thing. I write notes to myself by the hundreds on scraps of paper scattered throughout the house, garage, car, desktop and pants pockets. Never mind that they're not organized, readable or even relevant any more. It’s the effort that counts! I get up at the same time each morning that I have for the past 20 years (4:30 am). I eat my meals at 7:00, 12:00, and 5:30 each day. I lay all my clothes out the night before that I will be wearing the next day so I don't have to think about it in the morning. My toiletries are all laid out in a certain placement along the bathroom counter, lest I forget to put on my deodorant. When I travel, all familiarity and consistency evaporates and another "senior moment" rears its ugly head.
For instance, every hotel I stay in has decided to use a different sink and shower faucet configuration than the one I have at home. So each time I stay at a different hotel, I spend several minutes in frustration turning the faucet handles, knobs or levers in a manner I do at home which does not yield the same results. I end up with either scalding hot or icy cold water coming out at me. This phenomenon totally confuses me.
Some time ago, I got an acceptance letter into a show that I have never participated in. I hurried to get online to book a hotel in the area. Three months had passed since I made the reservation, and I was now arriving at the hotel, only to find that the art fair was still another two hours away in a city with a similar name as the one I had booked. Boy, do I hate it when that happens!
Or what about the other day when I spent over 45 minutes looking all over the house for my glasses, only to find them on top of my head. The only thing I hate more: once I find my glasses, I can't even read my own handwriting. Nobody told me it was going to be like this.
I am Mr. Methodical, and before each fair I go through a checklist to make sure that I have packed all the small and easily forgotten items. The last big fair I did went great. I had all the small incidentals, but I forgot the large item: the tent! Now I really hate when that happens.
Now don't laugh; these things have happened to me and others too. It is just a matter of time before they will happen to you. So, on second thought, laugh now and laugh hard, because when it happens to you, I will guarantee that you won't be laughing.
As I get older, I wonder about the strangest things. Like why do they put a red pimento inside an olive? It's just not natural. What purpose does it serve? And please explain to me what a pimento is because I have never seen one growing in any farmers' fields. Or why do fingernails grow twice as fast as toenails? I think I just had another "senior moment."
Where are all the matching lids to the Tupperware containers? I am getting ready to leave for an art fair and want to take some prunes along for an occasional snack. For the life of me I can't understand how I can have 30 different containers with 30 completely different non-matching lids. I am told prunes are supposed to be good at helping slow down the "senior moments" thing. I guess I'll have to leave them home this trip. And I've all but given up on trying to match pairs of socks. Anyway, nobody cares if my socks match.
I have also found that I have less patience. For instance, why do they have to put all those little labels on individual pieces of fruit? I find them extremely hard to pick off (even with my glasses on) and then I have to pick at them so hard that I usually end up bruising the fruit. I'm drawing the line when they start labeling each grape.
Then of course there are those magazine renewal notices that start coming to my mailbox six months before the subscription is due to expire. In my concern to be a good citizen, I pay these notices upon arrival, but they continue to come to the house. Pretty soon I don't know which ones I paid and which ones I haven't. So I end up paying for the same magazine two or three times. (Not that Sunshine Artist ever does this!)
The final coup de grace is when I get a paper cut on my tongue from licking the envelope in which the magazine renewal notice goes. Boy do I hate it when that happens!
See you on the road and under the canopy. I'll be wearing mismatched socks, eating prunes out of a Tupperware container with my eye glasses resting on top of my head. Scraps of paper will be hanging out of my pants pocket.