Things I Refer To
Getting out of bed the other day, I moaned.
Why am I sore?
Then I reminded myself, “Not sore, just old.”
And as the body begins to creak, the mind begins to leak, so I’ve begun both to do more vigorous physical exercise and to write things down. I can’t remember everything, of course, and as Cardinal Newman wrote, “We must make up our minds to be ignorant of much, if we would know anything.”
Anyway, my forgetting isn’t dementia, just aging – although nobody has measured the beta-amyloid deposits, hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles, or neuritic plaques in my brain.
It began with my Norma Shearer problem. She was a luminous beauty and a fine actress, and when first I saw her in Marie Antoinette (1938), I said to myself, This is an unforgettable actress. Yet for some mysterious reason, I seemed never able to recall her name. I would think of her, visualize her, and name her movies and recall her first husband (Irving Thalberg), but for the life of me I couldn’t dredge up her name. Funny, huh? Well, no.
And so, I started a computer document: “Things I Refer to.” I considered dubbing it “Things I Can’t Remember” but that seemed wrong, given that what I actually can’t remember can’t be listed, and because my concern is for things I do remember in part(faces but not names): of people I sometimes like to write or talk about. As far as I’m concerned, the rest of what I can’t remember is a pack of sleeping dogs. Norma is my alpha.