February 28, 2024 | Rome, Italy

It slipped my mind

By |2018-03-21T19:47:38+01:00December 29th, 2015|"In the Sticks"|
My memory is an empty vortex of swirling Spice Girl songs and 1990s celebrities.

he other day I forgot the word for tinsel. I was driving home and listening to some terrible radio DJ talk about decorating a ladder like a Christmas tree and I just couldn’t remember.

People forget words all the time, but I started to panic. I have always had a flair for the dramatics and nothing scares a journalist more than gaps in their vocabulary. Except maybe fact checking.

I thought about it for what felt like a lifetime and then I did what my generation always does. I powered up Google and wrote: “what’s the silver furry thing you hang on the Christmas tree?”

Unless Google finds out a way to surgically insert its search engine into my brain, this is the beginning of the end for me. I’m 27 going on 90 and I’m too cheap to sign up for a serious data plan on my phone. That means I can only sit and wait for the day when I inexplicably forget the way home and get eaten by raccoons in a deserted Tuscan forest.

My memory is an empty vortex of swirling Spice Girl songs and 1990s celebrities. Ask me how rain forms and I won’t be able to tell you, but I can sing all the words to “Spice Up Your Life” complete with dance moves.

By the way, I didn’t bring up the rain example randomly. I have had my husband explain it to me at least four times. He takes me through the process with the patience normally reserved for toddlers. I nod and then tell him with the utmost seriousness that the sky is blue because it reflects the ocean.

Take a moment before you write this “fact” down. I’ve mentioned it to hubby so many times, he’s given up correcting me. Now he just congratulates me on my mental prowess and continues scrolling through pictures of other people’s vacations on Facebook.

There is nothing in the world that annoys me more. I want to jump him and scoop out his brains in the hope that it will make a difference. I also want to shove his phone some place the sun doesn’t shine because I can promise you now that if they calculate how you spent your life in heaven, 80 percent of mine will have been spent talking to the side of his face while he pretends to listen. The other 15 will naturally be allocated to yelling at him to get out of the toilet because he’s been inthere for the past hour and other people have needs too.

When I tell people about my memory woes, they get very sympathetic very fast. They grab my hand and stare into my eyes with infinite pity. “There are exercise you can do, you know.” No, really?

I’ve been living under a rock for the past decade so I had no idea, but I do, for some reason, have the face of my family GP seared into the barren wasteland that is my mind. He used to enjoy drawing pictures every time he made a diagnosis. His explanations would last 15-20 minutes and he’d use his little diagrams to describe what was wrong with you when all you ever wanted was to get a prescription and get the hell out of there.

When I told him about my memory, he laughed in my face and told me to accept it with good grace because nothing would help. He was lucky my mum was in the room at the time or I would have shoved one of his diagrams up his nose.

Since then, I’ve been living with my affliction (cue sad violin music). Being in Italy hasn’t helped.

Nowadays, the first five words out of my mouth during any conversation are an incomprehensible slur. I forget ten English words for every Italian one I learn and I’ve started my own English-Italian dialect that only my husband understands. My personal favorite: squishare. It means “to squish.”

To be perfectly honest with you, dear reader, I don’t remember where I was going with this column,

I lost my train of thought after the tinsel story and have been making it up ever since.

About the Author:

Australian writer Elisa Scarton wrote the column "In the Sticks" from 2014 through mid-2019.