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February 8, 2014

As Time Goes By: Don't confuse signs of 'magnesia' with senior moments

The Daily Star

---- — The other day somebody told me I was losing my mind; this was when I realized that I might have “milk of magnesia.”

I started writing this column and was suddenly greeted by a whole page of white — a sure sign of magnesia. A few days ago I found myself standing in the middle of my cellar with no place to go while I can’t recall what I was looking for in the first place, which is a classic sign of magnesia. Writing that last sentence is a sure sign of magnesia.

My wife is always telling me about stuff and when I claim no former knowledge she insists that she told me a while back and I forgot — another sure sign that I’ve got magnesia.

I became frantic and started to research magnesia on Google. There I found out that, as I aged, my brain had every chance of looking like a Swiss cheese — the holes being chunks of memory that get lost forever. I figured out a way to beat magnesia and the holes in my brain.

If they can build up and protect my teeth from further erosion, they surely should be cleaver enough to figure out some way to fill up the holes in my brain. I think I could make a pile of money if I could find a way to grind up old useless encyclopedia books and, by mixing the pulp with some mustard and superglue, fill in the holes in my brain, forestalling magnesia while leaving behind the fragrant scent of a delicatessen. This is a sure winner. See — my magnesia is getting better by just thinking about it.

I am starting to think that magnesia might be contagious. Just think back to the history of our federal legislators — nothing was accomplished because they all caught magnesia and couldn’t find their building, let alone their secretaries. Some people claimed the magnesia was so bad that our legislators couldn’t find their butts even if they were sitting on them clasped in their hands.

You can tell that magnesia is bad in Washington when you ask them a question and they respond “I do not recall that,” or if they are asked about a memo, which is like a loaded gun, and they say, “To the best of my knowledge I never wrote that.” That’s magnesia.

The other day I was pulling on my pants and after I had them on I found that the pockets were not in their usual place. I was in a state of confusion when I realized that my pants were on backwards. I breathed a sigh of joy when I started picturing what would have happened if I had been out shopping and my Lasik tablet kicked in. I can picture myself screaming in a public place, “Help, Police! Someone stole my zipper.” I probably would have wet my pants but that isn’t anything unusual. Magnesia resulted in me having zipper marks up my backside for several days. 

There are many events that happen in the life of the elderly that have nothing to do with magnesia. For example, misplacing your car keys is not an attack of magnesia, since it is a well documented fact that car keys wander on their own.

The same thing holds true for a television remote. If you stare long enough at a remote lying on the floor while sipping scotch, you will notice that little legs come out of the side of the remote and it will quickly run under a couch. This observation can be helped along with a second or third glass of scotch. (Any brand will do.)

Eyeglasses can be a lot of fun. After you reach the age of 70 you will find that nearly one-tenth of your life from that point on will be spent looking for misplaced eyeglasses. It is a very safe bet that at least once in that time after an exhaustive search you will find your glasses on the top of your head. This is not a case of magnesia.

You must remember that “senior moments” are different from magnesia. Senior moments are those little pauses in life when you forget the name of your favorite granddaughter or the name of your favorite movie star. It’s only for a few moments but it is embarrassing.

Magnesia is when you look at your granddaughter and ask, “Who are you?”

This could be avoided if those empty holes in your brain were filled with bologna or cooked ham with sliced Swiss cheese. Then when you hit one of those magnesia moments you could say “Smell that? Make my bread Jewish rye with a touch of mayo.”

I know I got magnesia because my wife is always asking me, “Are you ready?” and I respond “What for?” She then responds (insert function here) and says that she told me weeks ago and I was enthusiastic about going, so, “Get dressed now!”

I get excited about watching “Hogan’s Heroes” on TV, and there was probably an overlap between the show and my wife’s question about going out. I said yes to Schultz, while not realizing that my wife heard a “Yes” to her, thinking it was to a symposium on watching earthworms breed.

My memory is still good. I can remember back to days when commercials were not longer than the shows.

We went out to eat last night at a restaurant and the food was magnificent. I would like to go back and eat there again but I can’t remember the name. I think it was “Spaghetti.”

That’s magnesia.

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by email at ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at