Last night I'm about to settle in with the latest issue of The New Yorker. I reach over to the night table where I always leave my reading glasses. Not there. I remember. I left them in the, uh, towel room.
I can always see it in my mind's eye. I see those towels hanging on a rack in a small room. I see the tub and tub, you would think being inextricably linked to bath, might give me a clue. Yes. Tub. Bath. Bathtub. Bathroom. But no, "towel room" is the best I can come up with. In the calm of the next moment "bathroom" is back. Bathroom. See, the information is there. It's just a bad switch.
It's not really a memory problem. Merely the words at the end of the sentence, the objects of desire, that elude. And it's not just me. It's me and everyone I know. Of a certain age.
My job as I see it is to make myself feel good about this. And I do. I feel "towel room" is a lovely, creative way to solve the, uh, oh why get hung up on specific words? "Towel room" is a perfectly acceptable substitution. Some might argue a superior descriptor. Think of real estate adds describing one and half baths. Who wants half a bath? What they mean is one little room with a bath and one little room without a bath. Bathroom and towel room. One might argue "sink room," but that has such an unsettling sound.
The bottom line is if we wise, aging folk were not clever enough to grab the wrong but closely related, possibly charming words out of thin air we'd just be gaping for air. So whenever I'm groping for the proper word I stop, switch my brain to ad hoc mode and create the phrase for the situation at hand. Now, excuse me, while my husband is out buying nails at the, uh, pharmacy for tools I'm going to grab a quick yogurt from the, uh, food museum.