My kids tell me I am losing 100,000 brain cells every day of my life. They base this on the fact that I cannot finish a sentence anymore without three or four people to help me fill in the blanks. They say it's like talking to a contestant on a game show where the audience participates.
I read where one author said we feed our minds intellectual junk food so that our brains are like globs of Elmer's glue. They harden before you can do anything with them. That's disgusting.I prefer to regard my brain as a cheap computer that stores information. Over the years, it has stored so much useless stuff that it is on overload and takes a little longer to bring the information up on the screen. I can recall my phone number when I was 9 years old, but I can't recall important things like who played opposite Gregory Peck in "Gentleman's Agreement." Give me a minute . . . it's coming. Oh, you know, she played in "Oklahoma" . . . her name begins with a B . . . it's on the tip of my tongue. Wait a minute . . . CELESTE HOLM!
When one of the kids said, "If you don't use it, you lose it," that made sense. I started to take Isaac Asimov's quiz that appears in our newspaper every morning. Without fail, I reached the Ph.D. level. However, I cheated so badly, I lost all respect for myself. So I started to watch "Jeopardy."
Every afternoon at 4 p.m. I would stop what I was doing and sit in front of the TV set in a straight-back chair and concentrate. I knew the answers. It was just that I didn't remember them until the middle of the 6 o'clock news. It was demoralizing to watch a 16-year-old answer questions in history when I couldn't come up with the answers. And I had been there.
Also, I became quite morose one day when I did pretty well during the game, but lost all my winnings when the final question had to do with Greek mythology. Where do they find these people? Are they all little endowments from a genius sperm bank?
I think the brain does go on overdrive as you get older. I blame this on the kids. When they were small, my brain was on call 24 hours a day. I figured out I once made an average of 35 decisions an hour - not major decisions, but questions where an instant answer was required.
Now that I've stopped running their lives, I've sort of kicked back and let them come up with their own answers. One of them called the other day and asked if he had had mumps as a child. I thought a second. "What is Centerville, Ohio, in 1965?" He said, "OK" and hung up.
I'm really proud of myself, but face it, he's losing it and he's only in his 30s.