I’m Absent-Minded

Back in the 1960s, Disney released a movie called The Absent-minded Professor. It starred Fred MacMurray of My Three Sons fame. (If you’re over 50, I know exactly what just happened with your brain when you read My Three Sons. You started humming the theme song and envisioning the opening sequence with all the cartoon feet. I do it too. You can see the My Three Sons opening and some snippets from the show here.) Meanwhile…back at the ranch…The Absent-minded Professor was released before I was born, but I remember watching it as a child…maybe on The Wonderful World of Disney on a Sunday night? Or maybe even in re-release at the theater in downtown Brewton, Alabama? It was about a bumbling, absent-minded professor who accidentally invented something called flying rubber that gained energy with every bounce. Pretty darn good family movie, actually…you can watch it on Amazon Prime here.

Well, when I was a little girl, i wasn’t “bumbling,” but I was absent-minded. I could spell anything and remember any piece of trivial knowledge and any phone number, but I could not remember where I put things. My parents called me “the absent-minded professor,” a reference to the film.

Sadly, not much has changed. Well, I can still spell really well. My memory is not what it used to be, but I’d still say it’s better than average. But that absent-mindedness? It is alive and well. On any given day, I can’t find my keys, because I wasn’t paying attention when I put them down somewhere. They might be underneath something, or in the bottom of my handbag….or even in the door. Or maybe I can’t find my handbag. Or I don’t remember where I left my phone or my hairbrush. I can even stay in one room and still misplace things. It drives my husband crazy. I call him Rainman, because like the character in the film of the same name, he is very orderly. He never misplaces anything. He does, on occasion, lose things, but that’s completely different than misplacing...loss is permanent, and misplaced is temporary. I’ll save that for another day.

Yesterday, I remembered I had received some checks in the mail over the weekend, and I wanted to take them to the bank to deposit them. I got my paperwork “folder,” and as I went through it, I realized the checks weren’t there. I had a vague recollection of putting the checks somewhere for “safekeeping.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember where I was keeping them “safe.” I did such a good job of putting them away that I hid them from myself. Panic set in, as it always does when I misplace something important. I started retracing…did I put them in a drawer somewhere? Did I accidentally throw them away? And any time I get into a frantic search, I talk to myself out loud about it. “Where could they be?” “What the heck did I do with them?” “Where did I put them?” “How could I be so stupid?” “Oh my gosh, I’m a lunatic!” I repeat those phrases…over and over. My pulse rate rapidly increases, and I’m sure my blood pressure goes sky high. I break out in a sweat and move swiftly, searching and searching.

My husband has long known not to comment during these episodes, and he knows not to jump into the fray uninvited. He learned a long time ago that I will go nuts if he says, “Where was the last place you saw them?” Or “You always do this.” He even knows not to offer to help find them. He knows I have to manage the panic alone.

And of course, the whole time I’m frantically searching and talking to myself, I’m also thinking, “How embarrassing if I have to call those people and ask them to reissue those checks!” I’m also thinking, “They are going to think I’m an idiot!” If this has ever happened to you, you know the mental anguish that goes with it. If it has never happened to you, well, good for you…you get the Organizer of the Year Award.

Eventually, yesterday, I did find the checks. They were exactly where I had put them for safekeeping…tucked away inside a notebook inside the folder of paperwork. Whew! Disaster averted. It took a few minutes for my pulse rate and blood pressure to get back to normal, but I was really proud of my husband, who stood in the kitchen nearby throughout the search, pretending to peel some fruit, but never uttering a word or so much as glancing my way. After I announced that I had found the checks, he turned to me and simply said, “Good!”

The cycle continues, I guess. I will always be absent-minded. I will always misplace things, and I will always talk to myself. At least I’m a good conversationalist…


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