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Some tests best left untaken

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

I was recently reading in USA Weekend, the magazine section of the paper, about Alzheimer’s disease. I serve on a board concerning Alzheimer’s and am acutely aware of the dreaded effects of this disease. With this said, I think it is only natural that everyone has at least a little fear they might end up with this terrible disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association has actually created a chart to help you understand whether or not you are suffering normal age-related memory changes or if, instead, you have signs that you may have Alzheimer’s. The chart, with clues to tell if you may have Alzheimer’s, is as follows: (1) poor judgment and decision making, (2) inability to manage a budget, (3) losing track of a date or the season, (4) difficulty having a conversation, (5) misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.

I don’t know who creates these charts, but perhaps they should rethink the categories. I decided, of course, to test myself under this five-step criteria. First and foremost, poor judgment and decision making. Well, I live in Dawson, Georgia. Need I say more?

Inability to manage a budget. I don’t even know what a budget is. My kids think I am a standing 6-foot-4-inch ATM machine. They approach me with hands out and pull on my arms like I am a gumball machine. My little boy’s solution to the purchase of any product, if a statement is made that we do not have enough money, is simply, “Well, go to the bank and get some more, daddy.” My checkbook looks like one of those Japanese Sudoku puzzles.

How about losing track of the date or the season? Oh boy, it appears things are getting worse. I once made an announcement to our church. Now, before I go any further, this was an announcement, not a full confession. If it had been a confession, I would probably still be in front of the church and only into approximately my third decade of bad behavior with two to go.

Actually, at one point my job at the church was to welcome everyone and read the announcements. I was welcoming everyone to church and telling them exciting news such as the Women’s Circle meeting had been changed from 6 to 7 p.m. This announcing was right after Easter. For reasons unknown to me, I said, “I hope everyone had a very enjoyable Christmas.”

This was the first time in my entire life when I have witnessed an audience of over 100 people all turn their head sideways, like a dog does when confused, and stare blankly back at me. I’m actually quite used to people staring back at me blankly, but the turned-dog look tipped me off that perhaps I had misspoken.

Difficulty having a conversation. Well, I must say that I am quite capable of having conversations. Intelligent conversation, now that may be different. I can talk with my buddies all day long. My wife, on the other hand, contends I have difficulty in having a conversation with her, but that is because she is not as well versed on the three major areas of important conversation topics, like I am — mainly, football, beer and naked women.

The first two categories I clearly have a superior knowledge about, and on the last topic it appears my interest far outweighs my wife’s, which, all in all, I guess I should consider to be a good thing.

Reaching Item 5, and realizing I am now 0 for 4, I’m very concerned about misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them. At right this moment, I have no idea where my checkbook is or car keys, and I’ve been looking for my high school class ring since 1981. I once went to Atlanta, parked in one of those giant pay parking lots, went to an all day meeting and had to hire a taxi cab to try and find my car. It is just a matter of time before I go to the mall with the kids and return with someone else’s children.

Oh, well, it looks like I ended up 0 for 5. I refuse to accept these results. The test must be flawed. Just like all my I.Q. test results. What the heck, it’s been nice knowing you, whoever you are, and whatever you said your name was.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.