Am I as forgetful as this po' old feller?

Published 4:09 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2002

By By LLOYD ALBRITTON, COLUMNISTWhen I was a young boy, I was often amazed and amused by old folks who could not remember where they left their spectacles, but could recall the precise details of an insignificant conversation 50 years earlier. I am still amazed, but am no longer amused. As one of the eighty million mid-fifties post-war baby boomer generation, I spend half my time these days looking for my car keys and the other half trying to find my glasses.
I once hid a book I was reading in a secret place underneath my reading chair and did not find it again for three years. Even in my mid-twenties, I occasionally got lost on my way home from work. On one occasion, as I was obsessing over some trivial matter, I drove right past my house. A short distance later, I realized what I had done and turned around to go back. Then, I did the same thing again. Then again. And yet again. When I finally walked in my front door, my wife said matter-of-factly, "I saw you driving back and forth in front of the house. What were you doing?"
My Grandmother, who was 20 years younger than my grandfather, used to cluck her tongue and shake her head behind the old man's back when she saw him do something stupid, and she'd mutter to herself, "Po' old feller!"
Sometimes I feel like a po' old feller too, especially when I drive, and especially when I drive at night. This has more to do with my eyes going bad than my brain, but you gotta wonder. I admit that I don't always know where I am when I am driving; I slow down too much at yield signs and people behind me blow their horns at me a lot.
I sometimes slow to a crawl when I am driving and having a conversation with a passenger in the car; and when I drive to the mall, I always park in the most wide open space I can find, no matter how far away from the store it is.
I got a speeding ticket up in New York a few years ago for going 85 mph in a 55 mph zone. The Trooper wanted to give me a "sympathy" break by writing the citation for only 65 mph, but I told him, "Officer, would you mind just giving me the ticket for the whole 85 mph? Otherwise, my wife will never believe I was driving that fast." The ticket cost me a whole lot more money, but I was proud of it and I flaunted it to my wife.
I have observed a basic difference between men and woman in this matter of forgetfulness. When a woman is reminded of something she said that has proven to be incorrect, she will quickly retort, "I never said that! What I said was . . . . . . She will then go on to reconstruct her statement to precisely mirror-image the subsequent truth of the matter."
A man, on the other hand, is more likely to respond, "Hmmmm, I do not recollect saying that, but if you remember that I did say it, well, I don't know why I would have said such a thing, but if you say I did, then I guess I did."
You see the difference? Quite frankly, I don't think women actually have better memories than men, but they do have a lot more confidence.
Women know this about men too, and they exploit it. Some years ago I managed a branch office for an investment firm with supervision responsibilities for 20-25 sales brokers, some of whom were women. One particular lady was always imposing upon me for special favors in her behalf in regard to her trades. She would often reinforce her demands by saying, "You told me you would do this!"
Well, I do like to keep my word, so I would often relent when she used this approach. Then, one day I overheard her tell a girlfriend, "Men never remember what they say, so I always tell them they promised me this or that and they always believe me." I was more cautious after that and I began documenting my conversations with her.
Like many southern men, I love to tell jokes and stories. Many people have asked me, "Lloyd, how do you remember so many jokes and stories?" The answer to that question is that remembering and mastering the telling of a joke or story is much like mastering a stage performance.
We perfect our lines by saying them over and over. To become a good storyteller one has to tell the same story many times. The more we tell a story, the better we perfect it and the better we get at telling it.
The problem with this practice is that, when we have told the same story so many times, we often forget who we have told it to. Consequently, story and joke tellers are often suspected of senility when we begin telling a story to someone who we have already told the same story to several times.
Some of my old timer friends have told me the same stories dozens of times. I always indulge them because they are close friends and I love them. I laugh heartily and say, "Dang, that sure was a good'n! Where'd you hear that one?"
Then I wonder to myself, do I do that? Am I as forgetful as this po' old feller?
It's a scary thing when we start forgetting stuff. My dog has an ID chip embedded in his shoulder which can be scanned by any veterinarian. They can then call his owner and help the po' old feller get home if he should get lost or stolen.
I have thought about having my veterinarian embed one of those special ID chips in my own shoulder. You know, just in case. I actually went to my vet's office one time to get it done, but by the time I got there I had forgotten what I was there for.
As I left his office, I overheard the receptionist mutter to one of her girlfriends, "Po' old feller!"
Lloyd Albritton publishes a series of humorous and philosophical narratives entitled The Albritton Letters on the Internet at He may be contacted at

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