Almost every woman over forty I know complains about memory loss. One of my friends regularly whines about forgetting where she’s parked the car, another can’t remember to take her combination calcium-gingko supplement, and a third sometimes fails to recall the fact that she has birthed three children, two of whom have made her a grandmother.
We all forget things every day from the age we’re old enough to point and say “Mine!” Test this out by asking a teenager – yours or one of those others who just likes to drop by and snack out of your refrigerator – “Do you have any homework?” I bet you $10 the answer will almost always be, ‘I don’t remember.” Or ask a middle-schooler to spell out LOL or BTW and they’ll look at you with a blank stare. And these people are not at all concerned about how well their brains are functioning.
It’s just that as we get older, we start to notice our mental lapses more and take them as a sign that we’re losing it. Personally I think that like every muscle in our body, the more we use our brain, the bulkier it gets. And since unfortunately, it’s surrounded by our head, as we get older, our big brains have to fold themselves up origami-like in order not to spill out our ears. What we think of as memory loss is just thoughts getting caught in the creases.
Still, it can be humiliating when your memory refuses to conjure up people’s names, especially people you know well or are perhaps are related to. For some reason, most of us take it as a slight if our sister, for example, refers to us as “Whatshername.” When it comes to this type of memory issue, I have some helpful tips. Tips that are more useful than those that suggest you repeat a person’s name in every sentence during a conversation. “How do you like this weather, Carol? What do you do for a living, Carol? What’s your favorite color, Carol? Wait! Where are you going, Carol?”
· When someone comes up to you with that look that says, “We’ve met before,” pretend to choke on something. If that person is a good friend, she will immediately begin the Heimlich Maneuver and you can simply say, “Hey, thanks, I owe you one!” and no one will be the wiser. If the individual turns and flees as you stand there gasping for air, you really didn’t want to bother yourself with remembering her name anyway.
· If you think you might know the name of a person crossing the room in your direction, but you’re not sure, start a sentence with that name, e.g., “Barbara….” Chances are, she will break in and correct you, “No, it’s Sally.” Simply continue on, “What I was going to say Sally, is that Barbara was just talking about how delicious your potato salad recipe is.” Now, who’s embarrassed?
· Always wear very dark glasses. Everyone will assume you’ve either just had your eyes dilated or had a little work done. Explain that you can’t see anything through your shades and ask everyone to identify themselves. Dark glasses also prevent people from seeing the look of panic in your eyes when they approach and you don’t recognize them.
· Buy monogrammed clothing for your close friends and people you really shouldn’t offend (boss, landlord, mother-in-law…) Although this strategy may not be much help in chance meetings on the street, for planned engagements, your friends will feel compelled to wear your gifts, and at least you’ll have their initials. It has been very helpful to me in the past, upon waking up to see my spouse’s initials on his pajamas.
· Join a religious cult that allows you to simply call everyone “Brother” or “Sister.” You’ll have 50/50 odds of getting it right, depending upon whether your girlfriends are sprouting chin hairs.
Hey Sister, Have You Lost Weight?
Tips #1: Fake choking.
Leigh Anne Jasheway