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Jon Mark Beilue column - Posted March 24, 2017 10:07 a.m.
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Artwork by Andy Chase Cundiff

If I could just remember it like it was 1965

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The poor tip of my tongue. As I careen headlong into yet another decade, the tip of my tongue is being asked to carry more and more weight. As in:

“Oh, gosh, wait; don’t tell me – man, what is his name? It’s right on the tip of my tongue.

“Blake. He’s your son. Blake.”

“I told you not to tell me.”

Well, it’s not quite that bad, but it’s well on the way. I don’t know what it says when I can more easily remember what happened 50 years ago than what I had last night for supper, but it can’t be good. (And before you laugh, what did you have for supper last night? No cheating.)

Call it short-term memory loss or brain overload, but whatever it is, I’m a candidate. WebMD lists some of the reasons for this as alcohol and drug abuse, concussions, other trauma to the head, or vitamin B12 deficiency.

No, I don’t fit any of those. But then WebMD says not to worry about it, that as we age, we often turn into mental Carlsbad Caverns, or words to that effect.

So, basically, it’s an age thing. Hey, isn’t everything?

I used to never have to write down appointments. Just put it in the vault, I’m good. No more. For the past several years, I have had an old-school Pocket Pal calendar, on which I write everything.

When I don’t, it can be disastrous, like a column interview that was supposed to be at 6 p.m. on the night of Jan. 23, for example. I was merrily getting dressed in the gym locker room after a workout that night when this text popped in:

“Did you forget? You said you would come by.”

Three apology texts later, we rescheduled. And I made very sure to write this one down. I usually write down only job-related reminders. I’m too proud to expand, but probably should.

I have lost count of the number of times when I brought some clothes to the dry cleaners and was told, “They’ll be ready Thursday.” By the time I remember to pick up a suit jacket and some slacks, they’ve outlasted several employees. I’ve probably got a leisure suit or two still at Valet Cleaners that never got picked up.

This doesn’t sound possible, but I’m here to tell you that I’ve gone through a fast-food drive-thru, ordered, got my change and driven off without food. That was one humbling trip back to Taco Bell to explain what happened.

Through necessity, I’ve mastered the art of looking for my car in the crowded parking lot when I have no idea where it is. No longer do I shuffle in circles, head turning left and right and looking like a complete doofus to those in cars watching this comedy act.

No, I have learned to stride confidently out to the parking lot, all the while rapidly hitting my key fob hoping the sound of a horn or headlights will lead me to the Promised Land. This can be complicated by others my age doing the same thing and the parking lot at Market Street sounding like a New York intersection.

Names? Hey, forget it, which I do with regularity. I will just be introduced to someone and can’t recall their name. It’s ridiculous. Was her name Linda? No, think it was Lacy? Wait, Lauren, no, Lexi, or was it Lori?

“Yes, it was sure nice to meet you … ma’am.”

I can remember my address in Lubbock when I was 6 years old in 1964 – 1822 E. Brown. I can remember the mailbox we had in Groom in the 1960s – Box 355. And then the second one, Box 591. I can remember our first telephone number: 248-4751.

I can still remember the opening words of the FFA creed I learned as a freshman – “I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words, but of deeds” – and Linus’ soliloquy from “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” as a sophomore – “In examining a work such as Peter Rabbit…”

But remembering to turn off the sprinkler in the backyard on a summer evening is a coin flip. There’s been more than a few nights when I’ve raised up in bed past midnight with a gasp.

In my underwear, I hurriedly waded out to the backyard, where whitecaps were beating against the fence, to shut off the water. I’m not a water waster. I’m just a water forgetter.

All I know is, when I tell someone that I remember it like it was yesterday, that’s code for saying that I don’t have a clue.

by Jon Mark Beilue

Jon Mark Beilue is an award-winning columnist for AGN Media. He can be reached at jon.beilue@amarillo.com or (806) 345-3318.
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