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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Alzheimer’s for Algernon

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m growing gradually stupider.

The decline was inevitable, I suppose. At thirty-five, my best mental years have been behind me for a decade or more, at least. Soon enough, they’ll fit me for my padded helmet, and feed me applesauce with a foam-covered spork.

“I imagine myself as a fetal genius, doodling differential equations and painting breathtaking frescas on the uterine wall.”

Until then, I’m swimming in that uncomfortable limbo we all reach, sooner or later. I’m ‘out there‘ every day, being mildly productive and accumulating experience in the ways of the world. That’s valuable, certainly. I know far more tax laws and Scrabble words than I ever did at twenty. Meanwhile, I can’t remember my license plate number, and I stand in the shower every morning wondering whether or not I’ve washed my hair yet.

The evidence of my impending stupidity is all around me. At work, I have this conversation a lot:

Me: Wait. Why the hell is [whichever database we’re working with] built like this?

Co-worker: Well, it’s —

Me: I mean, it doesn’t make any damned sense!

Co-worker: Yes, but —

Me: What kind of raving jackass would build it like that?

Co-worker: Um… you.

Me: I… really? I did that?

Co-worker: Yup.

Me: What the hell was I thinking?

Co-worker: Well, at the time, you said [perfectly clear and reasonable explanation for why the database is built the way it is]. So that’s how we did it.

Me: Oh. Right. What I said, then.

The longer ago it happened, the better the ideas get. And the longer it takes me to catch on to what past-Charlie was thinking. I imagine myself as a fetal genius, doodling differential equations and painting breathtaking frescas on the uterine wall. These days, I’m lucky to put on my pants without falling over sideways.

(Oh, and don’t get your hopes up. That ‘longer ago, better ideas’ doesn’t seem to apply to the weblog. The archives are full of nonsense exactly like this. I just spell a little better now, is all.)

The same thing happens at home. I subscribe to a puzzle magazine — because hey, I’m obviously not wasting enough time, right? And I’ll occasionally pick up a back issue to try out one of the brain teasers. More than once, I’ve sat, drooling and stumped by a tricky poser… only to notice the answer, in my own handwriting, scribbled on the side of the page.

It’s one thing to be taunted by a sibling or classmate or spouse who’s smarter than you. But to have your nose rubbed in your mushy brain by yourself, from three years ago? That’s just fucking wrong. I can almost picture me writing it, too, and pointing a jeering finger into the future with a Nelsonesque ‘Ha-hah!‘ That just seems like something I’d do. Asshole.

I suppose I should take my increasing idiocy in stride. It’s happening to all of us — except my wife, she smugly assures me — so why fight it? I’m as smart as I’m ever going to be, and somewhat less smarterer than I was before. So what if I start watching reality TV and need my social security number tattooed on my forearm? At least the writing here won’t change. Maybe I’ll even take a couple of you down with me. Watch out!

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “Alzheimer’s for Algernon”

  1. shelley says:

    I think you’ve already dragged a few of us down with you.

    I recently found several blog posts in draft form in my blog set-up/archivey stuff (is there a word for that place?) which I can only assume *I* wrote, but I *swear* I’ve never seen them before. And the stories in these posts? They start with something familiar and then veer off into stuff I’ve never heard of and I’d almost bet my left boob I’ve never thought of. I say “almost” because, well, I guess I must’ve heard *and* thought of ’em.

    A couple of ’em are even pretty good, believe it or not. (Shut UP.)

    Seriously, how is it possible that I was once that much more interesting and creative than I am now, and I not only am not that creative *any more*, but I can’t even *remember* a time when I was that creative and wrote some cool blog entries that I never posted?

    It’s obviously your fault.

  2. Kristine says:

    Almost the same thing has happened to me at work. And I’m only 24…sadly, I think my best mental years were in elementary school.

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