The nurse at my latest doctor's appointment was kind. Apparently, she had been trained to handle people like myself, to sit patiently while we grapple with the little inner demon holding tight to the one morsel of information we desperately need to remember.
"Forty," I spurted out, but it didn't sound right. "No, wait... 39? Oh, goodness." I silently counted as fast as I could in my head. 1968.
"I'm 41," I said sheepishly. "Sorry."
Soothingly, she assured me that it happens all the time -- perfectly normal people forget how old they are. On the other hand...
"What years were your children born?" she asked. That was an easy one. We had just had a conversation about how my son was in 10th grade and my daughter, seventh.
"1994 and 2007," I said.
Out came her soothing smile again, but this time it was tinged with a hint of pity.
"2007?" she asked.
"Yes, 2007," I said. Oh... wait... If that were true then my daughter is a two-and-a-half year old seventh grader taking pre-Algebra.
"Uh... make that 1997," I said. "Sorry."
"Oh, don't worry about it," she said, "You're not old."
Easy for her to say. She probably doesn't remember when Johnny Carson hosted "The Tonight Show."
I'm old enough to remember when Burt Reynolds dated Dinah Shore, and sitting on the floor of our living room playing PONG and thinking it was something out of a science fiction movie.
I'm old enough to remember (and stupid enough to admit that I had) pet rocks. I named mine Holly and Donnie ---Holly, after the coolest chick ever -- Holly Hobby -- and Donnie, in honor of my older sister's stalker-like fascination with Donny Osmond.
I'm old enough to remember my sister having a RONCO Rock Tumbler and not letting me touch it because she was determined she was going to make fabulous jewelry that everyone would be jealous of, so one time when she wasn't home I sneaked in and played with it because I wanted fabulous polished rock jewelry too, only I broke it and neither one of us ever had fabulous polished rock jewelry. And I never confessed... until now.
I'm old enough to remember that double-knit polyester shirt jacket and pants combo extraordinaire, acceptable in both the board room and the disco -- the leisure suit. I read not long ago that original advertisements claimed the leisure suit could be worn for 67 days without washing or ironing, yet still maintain its crisp appearance. Yikes.
I'm old enough to remember Louise Brown, the first test tube baby, and when Fonzie jumped the shark. Staying up late to watch the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Charles, to say, "Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific" and "Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin."
I'm old enough to have killed quite a few Sea Monkey families, and to have Mama cover my eyes because somebody was streaking downtown. I remember original scratch-and-sniff stickers and feathered bangs.
This week I turned 40... wait, 41... no, 42 years old. I hope my pet rock has aged better than I have.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.