March 03, 2009
Originally published November 20, 2003
I once was a lot smarter than I am now. I KNOW MORE now than I ever did before, but I'm just not as bright as I once was. I was sharp when I was a kid.
I once could read a book and remember almost every page in it. I was a quick study in school and I never forgot ANYTHING. I could memorize an entire sonnet in five minutes and quote it back to you a week later. I ran through Jeopardy questions like water through a collander. I was bright.
I've dimmed down a lot over the past few years. When Willy and I were riding home from The Music Box on Tuesday night, somebody in the van said that Marty Stewart was married to Roseanne Cash a few years ago. I KNEW that they were wrong and I KNEW who her ex-husband was, but I couldn't dredge the name from my memory banks. I wasn't drunk, either. I just COULDN'T RECALL HIS NAME.
"Leaving Louisana in the Broad Daylight." "Ain't Living Long Like This," I said. "That guy wrote those songs and we've played them a gazillion times. What IS his name?" We never could decide, but I KNEW that it wasn't Marty Stewart.
When I got home about 1:00 in the morning that night, I wheeled my trash can out to the curb because Wednesday is trash pick-up day around here. Willy pulled out of the driveway and headed home. I was almost to my front door when all the cylinders clicked and I remembered. RODNEY CROWELL!!!
I wanted to run down the road in the middle of the night in hot pursuit of Willy's van while shouting, "RODNEY CROWELL! RODNEY CROWELL! THAT'S THE NAME I COULDN'T REMEMBER!!" But I didn't do that.
I went inside the Crackerbox and contemplated the fact that my brain doesn't work the way it once did. I am not nearly as bright as I once was. Learning new things is more difficult now than it used to be. I once could remember damn near every word of the latest book I read and now I can't remember where I left my reading glasses OR where I put down the fucking book.
I still believe that I am wiser now than I've ever been, but my brain is lazy. Maybe I filled it up with too much trivial shit over the years and it just upped and retired on me. I have to think a lot harder now to remember things that once came easy to me. I am better now than I ever was at most things I've ever done in my life, but I don't pick up new tricks easily anymore.
Is that old age closing in on me?
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