Ranked in ascending order of dreadfulness:
Your own suggestions in Comments, as always.
And especially to my kids, who are cooking a “Friendsgiving” dinner for a bunch of their buddies who also can’t be with their families today:
Do Your Mom Proud.
All My Love,
In one of his very few funny sketches, comedian Lewis Black muses on the loss of memory common among us old farts. It’s particularly emphasized when we’re discussing stuff of little consequence, i.e. show business.
“Hey, did anyone see that TV show last night? It had that actor from that other show with the blonde chick from that movie with the guy from the… oh yeah, the James Bond movie about the pipeline.”
“Oh, yeah. I saw her at the Academy Awards show last year… or maybe it was a couple years ago. What’s her name?”
“Dunno, but she’s got a great body.”
Among men of my vintage, we’ve all had conversations like that.
I have a theory about this memory loss business. It’s not memory loss, per se — the memories are all still there, but our brains have just relegated some to the “Stupid Shit We Don’t Really Need To Remember” file.
And the reason we do this (I think) is that our brains — or at least the memory portion thereof — are like a computer’s hard drive, with a finite amount of storage; and as we get older, the amount of available space for new memories shrinks because honestly, we’ve seen so much stuff by now that we’re trying to fit a terabyte’s worth of data into a gigabyte’s area. Small wonder we get forgetful.
When you’re a youngin, what do you have to remember? Nothing. Your mother’s face, that you hate peas, where father keeps his wallet and suchlike. As an adolescent, you need remember only a few more things: your girlfriend’s phone number, your favorite beer, where you keep your wallet, and so on.
As an old fart? Good grief. Birthdays, anniversaries, grandkids’ names, old lovers’ phone numbers, the names of the songs on Sergeant Pepper’s, your first car (all your cars, come to think of it), your first / last / most memorable sexual experiences, your boss’s name (all your bosses’ names), where you put your wallet… the list goes on and on, seemingly ad infinitum.
At some point, therefore, your brain’s CPU says “Fuck that shit. Let’s start prioritizing those memories. Girl’s name you shagged in the parking lot? Gone. The color of your third car? Outta here. The color of your date’s prom dress back in 1971? Buh-bye.” (Annoyingly, the brain will sometimes trash something important, e.g. your wedding anniversary date, but good luck using that excuse with yer Missus.)
I told you all that so that I can tell you this.
I get confused by the various celebrities / actors / famous people, especially when they have similar names, similar faces or have similar careers. I’m not talking about Nigella Lawson or Sophia Loren, who stand alone, are individually memorable and are goddesses. Let me give you a good example of what I’m talking about.
Two actresses, both blonde, both sorta Aryan / foreign-looking with unusual names, both quite beautiful and both quite successful in their careers. Here they are:
The first one was in that movie with Nicholas Cage about the stolen Constitution, the second was in that TV show with the ginger from Band Of Brothers. (You know the TV show I’m talking about; it also features the funny-looking actor who played in that movie about wine.)
But mention Diane Kruger and Malin Akerman and you’ll get a blank look from me: I wouldn’t recognize either if I bumped into them in the street, and if you asked me to tell which was which… forgeddabahtit. “Blonde chick who was in some movie or maybe it was a TV show. I think.”
It’s even worse when their names are similar. Katie Price and Katy Perry? Seriously?
I know: one’s a pop singer or something like that, while the other’s a… model? reality TV starlet? celebrity prostitute? [some redundancy] A quick online search reveals that they don’t look anything alike, but when you see a headline that reads “Katie Price Is Pregnant!”, there is no way to tell which one is going to pop a sprog without a photo or scorecard.
Which is probably a Good Thing. Our lives are too important to have to store shit like this in our cluttered brains, no matter how much this might alarm Variety magazine or the Daily Mail.
And we sure as hell don’t have to know the answer when it comes to “Which Kardashian — Kim, Khloe, Kris, Kunty or whoever — is bonking a Black dude?” (it’s a trick question: they all do, apparently).
Nevertheless, I see an occasional feature arising from this, so in weeks to come, I’ll post some more confusing doubles.
Oh, and I almost forgot; here are the two Katies:
I know, they don’t look anything like each other. Doesn’t matter, I still get their names confused because quite frankly, I don’t care. I need to remember Shakespeare’s sonnets, not this bullshit.
It says something for my state of mind that when I saw the headline “May and Hammond at war over worst budget build-up in history”, my immediate thought was “Why are Captain Slow and the Hamster arguing over their show’s budget, and where’s Jeremy Clarkson in all this?”
Of course, the headline refers to some nonsense about UK politics and the “May and Hammond” referred to are not James and Richard, but BritPM Wossname May and the Lord High Chancellor of Whatever, Philip Hammond.
Cut me some slack: I’m out of touch here in Nether Boonies, Cornwall, and the UK’s budget battle is about of the same interest to me as the love life of that fat comedienne who’s related to Chuck Schumer. (Okay, maybe the budget thing is a little more interesting, but you get my drift.)
Now: what’s for breakfast?
My friend Doc Russia is a very intelligent man. When we got the final diagnosis of The Mrs.’s cancer — that it would be a question of months or even weeks, not years — Doc told me that he was not going to let me stay by myself “in some little apartment, looking at four walls” (his words).
So, true to his word, when the end finally came, he moved me into his guest room where I’ve been ever since — except for when I’ve been living with Mr. Free Market’s family and The Englishman’s family, that is.
Now, of course, I’m staying in Cornwall in a lovely cottage owned by The Englishman, and for the first time since February this year, I’m completely on my own.
So how does it feel, this living by yourself thing?
Many people talk of how when they finally come to live on their own, whether after death of a spouse or divorce, that there’s a wonderful sense of relief — that being on one’s own means that all your time is your own, that you have freedom to do whatever you want, even that you find things exactly where you left them, and so on. Last night, for example, I felt a little tired so I went to bed at about 9pm instead of my usual midnight-ish bedtime. Big mistake. As I’ve got older, I’ve come to need less sleep — or, to be more precise, a measured amount of sleep: about six to seven hours — so going to bed at 9 meant waking up at, yes, you guessed it, 4am with absolutely no chance of going back to sleep. Shit.
After a while, though, a thought occurred to me: I didn’t need to go back to sleep. I had nowhere to go in the morning, no place to be, and nothing that absolutely needed my attention. It’s called retirement, and I’m retired. Furthermore, if I were to feel tired later in the day because of my early awakening, I could just take a damn nap because I had nowhere to go, no place to be, and nothing that absolutely needed my attention.
Having established all that, there was only one thing to do, of course: I fell asleep in seconds and woke up just after 9am.
Then I walked downstairs after doing my Morning Things (meds, etc.) and walking into the kitchen, to find everything exactly as I’d left it the evening before: tidy (I’m a tidy person by nature) but with stuff lying on the counter that I would need to make breakfast. I still needed a few things so I walked up to the little grocery store and bought them, and when I got back to the cottage I put everything away and made myself breakfast. Which is when yet another realization came to me: this will be the pattern of the rest of your life.
I also don’t have a car, which means I can’t spend my days driving around the countryside like a dervish, being too busy to think. Now I have to take my time, literally, and in that time, all I really have are my thoughts for company.
Let me get one thing absolutely clear, at this point: I don’t mind being by myself — or at least, I’ve never minded being by myself before. The problem is that when you’ve lived as close to someone as I lived with The Mrs. for over twenty years, you get used to being not alone; and when you love your companion, that constant companionship is not a burden, it’s addictive.
For the first time in my life I feel alone, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
This won’t last, of course. At some point I’ll either get used to being on my own, or else a miracle will occur and I won’t be on my own anymore.
This post, by the way, is not a cry for help, nor is it a gloomy one. In ten days’s time, I’ll be driving along the Midi with one of my oldest friends, and after that, I’ll be spending Christmas and New Year in London with an even older one. My time in Cornwall is therefore just an interlude, but it may well prove to be the most important part of this sabbatical.
But Doc sure called this one right. At this point, having spent so much time in other people’s homes and having been so busy doing things like hunting, carousing, watching cricket and football and driving all over the place, the shock of February has pretty much worn off. Had I moved into an apartment back then and spent my days looking at the walls with a future that was going to be just that, I’m not sure I could have coped. No, let me tell the truth here; I would have fallen apart.
Instead, my friends, my wonderful, caring friends have given me the chance to recover, a time to heal and a time during which I could put my mind at rest.
Now I’m ready to move on, to face what the rest of my life may bring me, and I promise you all, I intend to live it to the full.