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At the Wendy’s drive-through last evening, I was busy wrangling my debit card, putting it back away when I heard, “I really like the highlights in your hair.” I turned with a smile, saying, “Thank you!” I was about to add, ‘You wouldn’t believe some of the odd looks I get’ when I got a good look at the person speaking. She was a very pretty, young black lady with a birthmark right across the middle of her face. The words died on my lips, but I kept smiling. Perhaps that was the world’s way of telling me to get over myself. For once I was glad that words had eluded me. 

Words escaping me has become a bit of an issue lately. I’ve finally reached the point in my life where for the most part I am confident enough to speak my mind fairly coherently when the need arises. Imagine my dismay when I open my mouth with a clear train of thought running through my head only to find that the simplest of words are out of reach. The thought is there; the verbalization is just beyond my grasp. For once, it’s not shyness holding me back. It’s something else. I’m not certain what it is. Is it stress? Fatigue? Too much else on my mind? Or is it something worse? Is it age-related? Is it senility? 

I balance a fairly heavy mental load. My brain churns at a rapid rate of speed. I’ve always been more of a thinker than a doer. I’m expected to remember all kinds of facts, figures, rules and procedures for work. For years I’ve suspected things I’ve memorized for work have pushed out all of those childhood memories my cousin easily recalls. Work flotsam obliterates happy family recollections my sweet hubby remembers like they were yesterday. I’m fond of saying, “Are you sure it was me you did that with? I think it was someone else.” I just don’t remember events. 

I’ve always been good at remembering or retaining numbers. I can recall my high school ID number – 1138618. I’m sure if I tried hard enough, I could dredge up my combination lock code from high school, too (18-28-36). I remember useless things, but having that sort of recall makes me good at my job, even though it frustrates the heck out of me personally. I’d love to remember the things that others do.

Having words to put with thoughts is only a small piece of it. No one likes to remember a person’s name after they’ve gone by. Or worse, call them by the wrong name altogether. I called our managing partner, ‘Jim’, ‘Paul’ because he bears more than a passing resemblance to someone else in charge here. I mumble so it’s possible he didn’t hear it or he was too polite to comment. Kind-of like the time an older partner kept calling me ‘Shirley’ (“and stop calling me Shirley”). I didn’t want to correct him and make him feel bad.

Not being able to articulate my thoughts or use simple, everyday words makes me feel old. I can’t give voice to simple words yet I can recall song lyrics from 35 years ago from songs I probably haven’t heard in almost that many years. Wait. I think I’ve solved my problem! Maybe I should sing everything I say. While my family might adjust to that because they love me, I’m not sure my coworkers (and boss) wouldn’t have me committed. 

Still, can you imagine their faces if I burst into song every time I opened my mouth? Especially if I sang it like a hard rock or metal song? It might be worth the risk of a padded cell after all. 

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