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Laughing Matters - Living with ‘Senior Syndrome,’ Geriatric Jeopardy for $800
by Sharon May
Sep 17, 2009 | 992 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sometimes it takes a pneumatic drill to drive home a point.

That’s what happened on my way to work the other day. I was stopped at a corner where road construction was in process and all of a sudden, a 100,000-decibal BLAT-A-TAT from a pneumatic drill almost caused me to wet myself.

But it was another bodily fluid that got me ruminating. It was the quart shot of adrenaline through my veins from the unexpected blast that got my heart thumping, my pulse galloping, and left my hands shaking as I pulled away from the intersection.

That’s when the trouble began. You see, in talking to myself (a habit of single people, and that’s my excuse), I could not recall the word "adrenaline.” Oh, I could dredge up the words “adrenal glands” and recall my knowledge about the “fight or flight” response. But the word “adrenaline” escaped me for about 12 minutes and eight miles up the highway. All the while, I could feel my brain pulling out its metal drawers and fumbling through its yellowed files.

I find this happening more and more. Like the next day, trying to recall the word “water.” I call it “on-the-tip-of-my-tongue” syndrome. Others call it “old age.”

This senior syndrome is why I’m no good at Jeopardy.

I’ll see the young upstarts on the TV program whipping out obscure facts in mere nanoseconds, facts that I know I know but cannot remember at the moment.

So while I’m going, “Ooh, ooh, I know this one, I do—” the contestant is blurting out, “What are boar bristles in the Ming Dynasty” or “What is Lake Chicahuatlozital?”

We post-mid-lifers have no chance against these vigorous 3 Ghz-processing brains. What we need is our own slower version of “Geriatric Jeopardy.”

I envision three senior guests taking on Alex Trebek in more easily recalled categories like “My Children’s Names,” “Current Neighbors” and “Animals that Meow.”

As the game show begins, the first contestant, Mildred Smelcher, of Wausaukee, Wisconsin, says, “I’ll take “Misplaced Eyeglasses” for $400, Alex.

Contestant number two, Lula-June Hagenhoffer, of Poughkeepsie, New York, chooses “Kitchen-drawer Thingamajigs for $800,” and contestant three, Millard Bangerter, of Maquoketa, Iowa, selects “My Wedding Anniversary” for $1,000.

Then, Alex sends the three contestants to soundproof isolation booths – without the annoying distraction of “do-do-do-do” music – while he instructs the audience, “We’ll be right back after these three hours of commercial breaks.”

After the senior contestants have had three hours to prod their memories, Geriatric Jeopardy returns for their answers, which they toss out with ease: “What’s on my head?” “What are mismatched corn holders from 1958?” and “What is June 17, 1965?”

Hours later, the contestants move to Final Jeopardy, in which they have just 30 minutes for a tete-a-tete with their cerebral matter to come up with a match to the answer: “A device designed to clean one’s ears.”

OK, senior readers, let’s play along. What is it?

And it’s not “What is a pneumatic drill.”
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