A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Lose


By Neil Offen

Do you sometimes think you’re losing your mind? This is not uncommon, particularly at a certain age. According to the federal Bureau of Lost and Found, nearly 6.2 million minds have been lost over the last decade, many of which did not have names sewn on the back or scrawled in magic marker.

When we can’t find our glasses or remember who was our high school prom date or the names of our children, we naturally start to think we are on the precipice of cognitive decline. But let’s be honest: if we were really on the precipice of cognitive decline, would we actually use a phrase like “the precipice of cognitive decline”? And doesn’t everybody lose keys occasionally and misplace glasses, although not usually in the middle rack of the oven?

Not every forgetful moment means senility is knocking at the door. Sometimes, senility rings the bell. Sometimes it sends a text or these days just invites you to a Zoom. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of the real signs of the possible beginnings of losing our minds.

Have you had episodes of short-term memory loss? For instance, do you sometimes forget why you got in the shower? If you think it was to go to the movies, you may have a problem unless you can remember the name of the second feature. If you can remember when there used to be second features, no need to worry.

Do you have trouble communicating? Can you explain to friends and family the plot of “The Crown”? Can you describe, in detail, the relationship of Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, to Wallis, Duchess of Windsor? Do your friends and family have no idea what you’re talking about because they’ve been watching “Wipeout” on TBS?

Are you frequently confused? Do you avoid the self-checkout line at the supermarket because it’s just too complicated? When you do self-checkout, are you puzzled about what code to input for loose doughnuts? Is that the same code for pastries? And are you puzzled about whether croissants are also considered pastries? Relax, everybody is puzzled by croissants, except maybe the French.

Are you frequently moody? I mean, who cares. All right, I care. No, really, I don’t. Oh, forget it.

Have you developed an inability to grasp sarcasm? Yeah, right, of course you haven’t.

Do you have difficulty performing simple tasks? Just because your seven-month-old grandchild can reinstall Bluetooth while brushing his one and only tooth doesn’t mean you should try doing that, too. Know your limits.

Do you occasionally live in an alternative universe? Have you no idea who Olivia Rodrigo is? Are you overwhelmed by how many Cheerio flavors are now available? Stick with Honey Oat.

Have you experienced a lack of interest in pretty much everything? No longer absorbed by the activities you used to enjoy, such as solo space travel and ultra-marathon sledding? This is probably normal, but you should nevertheless get it checked out.

Do you have problems coping? Do you fall apart, melt into tears or fly into a rage when you are unable to open a flip-top can of corn because the flip-top just broke off?

Join the club.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column will appear twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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