Features

Old age, booze, and forgetfulness ...

... has this Stringer found the magic cure????

from Don Norris

This is actually the third draft of this story. The first two, the editors
said, made me sound like a drunk, which I am not. Lorry and I have enjoyed a
daily cocktail or two for most of our adult lives, but I don't remember being drunk
-- since college days. Maybe once or twice while in the Marines ...

Here's a new version of that first (rejected) draft:

"Stop drinking."

Well, at least, stop drinking what you've been drinking -- and switch to
something else. Not another kind using the same stuff, but some different
product. Like, say, orange juice, root beer, coke, pineapple juice, Pepsi ...
even wine.

I did. I have, for the past many years, been drinking a maximum of two liquor-
drinks each afternoon. And I looked forward to 4:00 pm, to have my "before-
dinner-cocktails."

Hmmm. It didn't work. For years now, I have followed that pattern -- two
drinks in late afternoon. Sometimes I slipped and had three.

And six months ago I began loosing my memory -- after open-heart surgery --.
I'd start the day okay, but three hours later, I couldn't remember common
commands of my computer -- and I have been running computers for about 30
years now. I just couldn't remember addresses, commands, sequences, people's
names, dates  ...

The doc at Lahey Clinic tested me and concluded that my short-term memory loss
was due to advancing years. I am 86 now, fairly active physically, sharp
mentally. But by noon, daily, I begin to forget.

And it got worse, as I went along, two drinks a day. I gave up gin, switched
to vodka, which  still affected my memory. I thought, well, hey, I'm 85 ...
this is what happens.

It got worse and worse, and my life as a journalist started falling apart.
I've written millions of words over the past 65 years, and suddenly I can't
remember very recent, common things. Names, addresses, plans, all forgotten.

So three weeks ago, I decided to stop drinking hard stuff. I'd get along with
a daily glass of white wine. It's been two weeks now, and pretty rapidly, my
memory is coming back. I can write again, I can run Pluto (the program behind
the Melrose Mirror"). I can think straight, remember commands, classic names.
like Bill Jodrey, Tom Dillon, and a dozen other "Stringers" who have since
passed away.

It's certainly not a total solution, but doing wine apparently isn't as
deleterious as the hard stuff.

My wife thinks it's too early to make this judgement -- that is, three weeks
isn't long enough to make this judgement. She says I'm jumping the gun.

Perhaps so, but cutting out the heavy booze -- two drinks a day -- and
allowing myself only a daily glass of wine -- has suddenly worked wonders. I
can write, I can remember names and codes -- and I feel good. The daily glass
of wine has proven all right -- but Lorry says my experiment hasn't had time
for such a radical judgement.

Well, I'm writing this piece fully 10 days before publication. If my new
attitude doesn't work out, I've got10 days to dump this piece. So far, I'm
enthusiastic about my reclamation, for my story has reached publication.

I suppose some day sooner or later I'll have to give up my daily dose of white
wine. That's the way life goes. Try it.

Later: Feb 11: It's not working -- or else I'm drinking too much wine. I'll
cut back on that, too. See what happens.Later.


:It's toward the end of February now-- I'm better -- but still
somewhat forgetful. I don't miss the daily cocktail, and enjoy the wine -- but
this aging is really a pain in the you-know-where.

A reasonable solution -- which apparently Lahey endorses -- hasn't made the
problem go away, but here I am, at the computer, writing a new story. Does
this mean an endorsement of my program. I sure hope so.

Pardon me, while go get a class of wine. It's 4:00 p.m. Publication is just
around the corner.


March 3, 2017


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