THE BLOG
10/09/2013 01:30 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Memory's Going, Thank Goodness for Whatshisname!

As I age, I am astounded at how intact my long-term memory is for even the tiniest details of long ago. Yet my short-term memory is completely shot.

It doesn't make any sense to me why I can remember the names of every teacher through elementary school despite a lack of photos, who I had crushes on through every grade, the best birthday parties, and the lyrics to every song produced in the 1960s, when I can't remember things I need to remember in the here and now.

That 50-year-old information is not important, it's not relevant, and doesn't help me locate my keys when they are missing.

Especially after I valet parked.

Frantic key search follows. First re-visiting the table I sat at and looking there and on the chairs and floor, then rifling through my purse trying to locate said keys that were of course with the valet the entire time, I then bumped into a male acquaintance who noticed my distress. He gently reminded me I valet parked, as did everyone in the restaurant.

Thank goodness for whatshisname! I could not remember this acquaintance's name for the life of me, but he spared me from another ten minutes of futile turning my purse upside down. I soothed myself on the ride home by letting my mind wander to the May Day school celebration events of 1965.

Why do I remember my third grade birthday gifts but not where I left my reading glasses just a few minutes ago? I remember the brand of chocolate milk I drank during snack time in kindergarten, but I can't remember what I ate for dinner last night.

I walk into rooms, forgetting what I went in for, but recall with full clarity what my best friend's bedroom looked like in elementary school.

I will forget the great idea I wanted to write down for my latest blog, but remember all the lyrics to a song from 1967. (And a bad song at that.)

I go into a grocery store to buy something, stupidly forgetting a list, and bump into whatshername -- an acquaintance I know but whose name is escaping me. By the time the chatting is done, the item I needed from the grocery store has vanished from memory. I aimlessly wander the aisles hoping to trigger the memory.

My husband and I have been know to rent a movie we have already seen just a few years ago, and it takes viewing it up to the middle to remember that we've already seen it.

When we are out with friends our age, one of us will get stuck on something we should remember, and it's a contest to see who can whip out our smart phone fastest to Google the answer. I vividly remember way back when before Google when my Saturdays were spent in the library with the heavy reference books "looking things up." I even remember the smell of the oily copying machines we used (for a nickel) to copy said reference stuff.

Why do I remember every name from long ago, and I can't remember acquaintances from just a few years ago? (NOTE: My husband and I have a system for not remembering names of people. We give each other a signal if we can't introduce someone because of faulty memory. And then we fervently hope that the person will introduce himself or herself at some point.)

The only thing that comforts me is the fact that there are millions of people in my age group who are wandering into rooms forgetting what they went in there for, and they have no recollection of old events either because they partied through the 60s or 70s so much, their long term memory brain cells were destroyed. (You know that expression, if you remember the 60s you weren't there. Unfortunately I was there but didn't kill off any brain cells.)

But should that comfort me? Is my long-term sharp-as-a-tack memory doing anything constructive in my current life other than making social media conversation with old classmates more fun? Isn't it clogging my brain from remembering more important current events?

It's almost as if I have a filing cabinet of memories in my brain and the old cabinet is too full of old stuff to fit in any new stuff.

I am taking fish oil pills and folic acid and I will probably try anything else that someone recommends if it helps the short-term memory. That is, if I remember to write it down and actually purchase it at the store when I go there for it.

I had some other great material for this blog, but I didn't write it down, so you know, it's gone and forgotten. But I can recite most of the poem The Raven (memorized for a high school assignment) if you want to hear it.