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Carl Wernicke: What Was I Doing?


It’s heck getting old. Younger listeners hearing these words won’t understand that for awhile, and older listeners already get it. Or will soon be getting it.

Perhaps the first real hint that being old is not the same as being young comes as your memory begins to slip. You forget things, you can’t remember other things, and your mind meanders down all sorts of false trails.

Recently, for instance, my wife and I were making breakfast. We have one of those devices that grinds the beans for each pot of coffee, and breakfast started out badly when my wife put the coffee beans into the filter basket instead of the grinder, and I got hot water instead of coffee. I stepped in to repair the damage, but failed to remember to put the top on the grinder compartment and instead of coffee I got a burst of irritated beeping noises.

Meanwhile, I was going to warm up some syrup for our pancakes; a friend had told me that if you put blueberries in the syrup and nuke it, the berries explode and make blueberry-flavored syrup. I put the syrup, butter and blueberries into a small pitcher, but just then I realized that Patti was cooking bacon and I decided to take a plate to the stove with a paper towel on it to receive the cooked bacon.

On the way I passed my iPad and, remembering that the Yankees had played the night before I decided to check the score. That was when I saw the mail stacked next to the iPad and remembered that I hadn’t opened the envelope that probably had my new credit card in it. I opened it and, in the interests of efficiency decided to call the number that activated it, so I carried it over to the sideboard with the landline phone on it. That’s when I realized I hadn’t plugged by cell phone into the charger. I also remembered that I had left the phone on my reading table in the living room, so I went to get it.

That’s when I remembered that the John D. McDonald novel I was reading had only a few pages left, so I decided to finish it. But I realized I had left my reading glasses on the computer desk, so I headed there to get them, and discovered that the reason I couldn’t find my work boots was that for some reason I had left them in the bedroom. Worse, they had mud on them and needed cleaning so I headed for the laundry room, where I found my shoe-shine kit I had been looking for, which reminded me that I had been meaning to polish the shoes I had worn to work for something like three straight weeks and were looking worn.

On my way to the bedroom with the shoe polish kit I passed the kitchen and noticed that Patti was at the stove, and I remembered that I was supposed to heat up the syrup, which I decided to do as soon as I checked the Yankee’s score, which I did not do as I puzzled over why my new credit card was sitting out by the phone.

By this point we both agreed that going to Waffle House for breakfast was an excellent idea, and that we should do so as soon as we could remember where, exactly, it was.