Middle age is frightening. It’s scary for several reasons including the fact that my skin is becoming see-through and perfect strangers are able to view my internal organs as a result, but mostly because I think my brain is shrinking faster than my height.
Tonight I set the oven temperature for 350 degrees and plopped myself on the couch to watch the news. Thirty minutes later, I went in the kitchen and opened the oven. I peered inside. I closed it again. I opened it and stuck my head inside and looked around. “Who took the Salisbury steak?” I asked my husband. “I put it in the oven half an hour ago!”
He stared at me. “No, you didn’t.”
My heart sank. I opened the oven again in disbelief. It was still empty. “Turn off the potatoes,” I said to him as I quietly opened the refrigerator and stared at the casserole dish holding our uncooked dinner.
“What?” he grunted. “I’m hungry! I thought we were eating in fifteen minutes.”
I sighed. “Apparently I forgot to put the meat in the oven.”
My husband was wearing the same look on his face that I wore when he forgot to fill up the bird feeder the other morning before he left for work. “Honey,” I shouted thirty seconds before he walked out the door, “Could you fill up the bird feeder before you go to work?”
“Sure thing!” he shouted back. The door slammed and a few minutes later, I went upstairs and looked out the window. I saw a lone sparrow sitting on the bird feeder holding a sign that read, “Will work for food.”
The bird feeder was empty. I called my husband on his cell phone. “Yes honey?” he answered.
“Did you forget something?”
“I’m wearing underwear today and I’ve got my lunch,” he replied.
“The bird feeder?” I asked.
Silence, then “Oops,” he said quietly into the phone.
I read somewhere that something happens to the brain after age forty, but of course, I can’t remember where I saw the article. Personally, I think everyone who worked at my brain cell factory decided to go on strike the day I turned forty-one. “Hey,” said one assembly-line worker, “This is pointless. Every morning we make brain cell after brain cell and then we just watch those same cells shrivel up the next day. I’m disgruntled and I feel underappreciated. Anyone else feel the same way?”
Five hundred workers raised their hands in agreement. “What do you say we go find a twenty-five year old with a young brain that still works?” one worker shouted out. Without fanfare or a going-away party, the factory closed down within five minutes.
Later that day, I forgot where I put my purse, I couldn’t remember how old I was, and I overlooked the fact that I should have opened the garage door before I pulled the car in.
Meanwhile, back in my kitchen, the meat was raw, the potatoes were overcooked, and I couldn’t remember whether the dishes in the dishwasher were dirty or clean.
“What do you say we go out to dinner?” my husband suggested.
“That sounds great,” I agreed. “Let me get my shoes and we’ll go.”
I wandered around the house for several minutes and then asked my husband, “Have you seen my black boots?”
“No,” he replied. “Have you seen the car keys?”
“Not since this morning,” I answered as I opened my wallet. “Do you know where my credit card is?”
We sat down on the couch and folded our hands. “How does peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sound for dinner?” I asked him.
“Super,” he smiled as he fished around the couch. “Do you know where the remote is?”
And I thought getting gray hair was bad.