Early Onset Senility

I work for a great woman who is understanding and supportive about my never ending issues with my kids (orthodontist appointments that make me come in late, homework that requires me to leave early, kid illnesses that prevent me from coming in at all). Even better than that, she’s about my age, and grew up in the same part of the country I did (Middle Atlantic states, for those of you playing along at home), so we have a lot in common, and many of the same cultural references. Our weekly half hour one on ones are a quick recap of what’s going on in my work world, and up to twenty five minutes of chat about one thing and another.

Sometimes it’s work-related—gossip or other news, but more often than not, it’s personal. We’ll talk about what we did over the weekend, or something that happened with one of my kids, which will lead us down a path of reminiscences about when we were kids.  Sometimes it’s current events or celebrity gossip. We’re kind of all over the map. We swear a lot.

This week we had something happen that happens all the time—there was something celebrity-related we were discussing but couldn’t remember certain details, and as a result, we sort of talked around in a  circle, pulling on pop culture threads until we got it, kind of like those lame piñatas with the bazillion curling ribbon strings intended for really little kids, where they’re supposed to pull one string at a time until some kid pulls the right one and a cascade of Dubble Bubble gum  and Jolly Ranchers comes cascading down on their heads (and why do people always put such sucky candy in piñatas? Hello, chocolate? Not even little kids would pick Jolly Ranchers over chocolate).
It started with my recounting how one of my twins had stomach flu over the 4th of July weekend. He’d barfed on Wednesday, but seemed fine on Thursday, until my husband took them to Dairy Queen. He ate a cone, then promptly horked it all up in the parking lot (the kid, not my husband). There’s a town near us that does their fireworks on the 3rd, and we were going to take all four of them that evening, but after the puking I said this one needed to stay home with me. Especially after I called the doctor and they confirmed there was a stomach flu going around—I didn’t want him to give it to anyone else at the fireworks display. And as for staying home myself, I was totally OK with it. In the first place, fireworks bore the snot out of me (oo…ah…whatever; you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all) and in the second place, I find it weird that this town does them on the 3rd. It’s my private little protest that I don’t normally get to exercise because my kids want to go see the goddamned fireworks (oo…ah).
So he and I stayed home and he watched The Little Rascals. It came out in 1994, and stars exactly no one you’ve ever heard of, and is one of the stupidest movies ever released (any of the fucking talking dog movies might be a contender here—you know, the ones with the golden retriever puppies who save the world with nothing but a chew toy and a shit ton of nauseating cute). The sad thing is, if the success of the movie was based on the adult cast alone, it might have stood a chance. Whoopie Goldberg, Daryl Hannah, Mel Brooks, Lea Thompson, George Wendt. The only two of the kids in it you’ve ever heard of are the Olsen twins, who were billed as “Twin 1” and “Twin 2” and showed up in possibly two scenes. But this movie is one of my kid’s guilty pleasures, and the fact that he had a couple of hours at home alone without any siblings expressing their damned opinion of what should be on the TV gave him a chance to watch it.
> = < ?

It's a toss up. They're both pretty much made of suck.

My boss wasn’t even aware that they’d made a movie of the Little Rascals, so she looked it up on IMDB, remarking as she did so that Mel Brooks had recently died. Thus it was that we had this exchange:
Me: “No he didn’t,"
Her: “Didn’t he?”
Me: “I don’t think so…”
Her: “Oh, no, it was his wife who died not long ago.”
Me: “Um…umm…Annette Benning!”
Her: ”…”
Me: “Right?”
Her: “No…   …Anne Bancroft"
Me: “Oh right! Well, I got the initials right. Annette Benning is married to…um…”
Her: “Uh…”
Me: “Carly Simon…I mean, you know, the song…”
Her: “Right, the one that dated everybody…”
Me: “Um…”
Her: “Warren Beatty!”
Me: “Yes!”

We decided that this is what happens when you get older. You can’t think of things, but you can think of all the things around the thing, or related to the thing. We do this all the time. We’ll be talking about a song, or a movie, and we can’t think of the primary piece of information, but we can remember half a dozen tangentially related facts, so we bounce them back and forth between us like so many ping pong balls until sooner or later something strikes a live synapse in one of our brains and we triumphantly spit out the answer, proud of our ability to sort through the dates in American history, punch lines to blond jokes, and old phone numbers stored in the cluttered recesses of our aging memories along with whatever pertinent information we were hunting for. It seems like this is the only way we can remember things—by playing a sort of Early Onset Senility version of Six Degrees of Separation.
When I got back to my desk, I got curious. I didn’t remember hearing that Anne Bancroft had died. I loved “The Graduate” and I remember seeing “The Turning Point” when I was about nine. I had always thought she was so lovely, and such a really excellent actress. Plus I love Mel Brooks (“Blazing Saddles” is just awesome—“Are we awake?” “We’re not sure…are we black?” “Yes, we are” “Then we’re awake…but we’re very puzzled” I mean, that shit is genius). I looked her up on Wikipedia (the source of all wisdom). Wikipedia is the best friend of those of us who suffer from Early Onset Senility. For the curious, she died of uterine cancer in 2004, two months after her son and daughter in law had a son (I thought it was nice that she got a chance to at least see her grandchild).
I went back to my boss’s office a little while later.
Me: “So I started wondering when you said Anne Bancroft had died recently, and looked it up on Wikipedia.”
Her: “Yeah?”
Me: “For the record, she died in 2004. Ten years ago.”
Her: “…”
Me: “Right?”

The fun never ends with Early Onset Senility.


Michelle said...

HAHAHA...this is awesome. And this is how hubs and I figure stuff out ALL THE TIME...that one guy in that one thing...

Tracy said...

Thanks! Yep, my boss and I do this at least once a week. Thank god we're from the same place and time so we can go, "You know, from that movie with John Cusack? That guy." It's pretty hilarious. I'm sure anyone listening to us would think we were nuts.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is so funny! I feel I'm at the point with how little I keep up with pop culture as well as possible early senility that I'm amazed when I do know something :) looking forward to reading more posts!

Tracy said...

So glad you like it! I try to post at least 2x a week. When my Early Onset Senility actually gives me anything to write about :p

I'm with you--my kids are making me a little better with pop culture (well, of the Disney XD variety--I know stuff like who's on the popular tween shows), but the 90s is kind of a void for me. I sort of tuned out after about 1989!

Thanks for stopping by!!