I keep hearing ads for these brain training programs that are designed to ‘increase mental acuity by calculating baseline scores’ as they put it, but in my world a baseline score is what your doctor uses to measure the relative swiftness of your decline.
And yet, and yet: If I don’t do these mental calisthenics, will I start losing it? Forget how to flush, or make change? Inadvertently turn into the funniest person standing in line… at the wake?
I look at what’s out there and then I look at my life. I don’t do Lumosity. Or Sudoku. Or Words With Friends, which is basically just Scrabble over the Internet. But the way I look at it, people old enough to worry about getting sharper are already less sharp. Just look up the statistics on how fast your synapses are firing now compared to how they fired when you were 12. You’re slower than you were and that’s a fact, so now you want to start measuring how much slower? You might as well make little marks on your kitchen wall the way people do with their growing children – only you’d be doing it so you could watch yourself shrink.
But back to mental acuity: When I was young, I could memorize anything, historical dates from the 1500s, the license plate numbers on my friends’ parents’ cars, the poems our teachers used to make us stand beside our desks to stammer out. Now all I have stored here in this head is a single credit card number, and even then I have to get a running start with, the way you do with the 23rd Psalm, say.
As for poetry, every time I try to recite those bits of verse from my schooldays sonnets, they all mysteriously become, three lines, in, “Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know,” but seriously: What are you gonna do? Mark Twain famously wrote that when he was younger, he could remember anything, whether it happened or not.’ But as his faculties began decaying, as he put its, he got so he could only remember the latter.
He could only remember what didn’t happen in other words. If I get like this, I won’t be any kind of authority on the facts but hey, stick around anyway: It’s a good bet my stories will become a lot more entertaining.
And now, this great clip from Men in Black, where the memory-erasing Neuralyzer is put to use… which leads me wonder: Have Agents J and K been around HERE lately?