My husband is younger, but just by a few years. That puts him in the same decade of life as I am. And it means that when we’re watching an old movie, and I ask, “Who’s that actress again?” he usually answers, “It’s What’s-Her-Name.” And there we sit, neither one of us able to conjure up even a first initial as a guide. If we’re lucky, he or I may shout it out a half-hour or so later. But most times, the mystery ends when he looks it up on his iTouch.
Then there are the crossword puzzles. I love doing them, and I’ve even been tackling the New York Times Sunday puzzles lately. But more often than I’d like to admit, a word sits on the tip of my frontal lobes but just won’t work its way down into my hand and out the ballpoint pen I'm clutching. After several tries, I’ll admit defeat and ask my spouse for help. Nine times out of ten, he's sure he knows it but just can’t get it out of the recesses of his brain either.
So it appears that his relative youth is of no use to me in these trivial pursuits. Or is it? Would I feel better if he glibly spouted the actress’s name or leaned over and wrote the elusive puzzle word in the squares? Absolutely not. If he did that, I would probably conclude that my lapses were a sign of encroaching memory loss—the A word. Instead, we can laugh together at the toll age takes on our storehouse of memories. Then I think to myself: If someone younger than I can’t answer these questions quickly either, I must be OK. And we’re in this together.