When my brother Douw was a little (like six or seven, I think), and I was a teenager and constantly on diet, he once said to me… “I know how you can lose ten kilograms of ugly, useless fat overnight.” It was never going to be a solution to my utterly imagined but nonetheless ghastly obesity, but I had to ask, “How?”
“Cut off your head,” he giggled.
I reminded him of this when Jurie and I went to his wedding in Taiwan two years ago, and he thought it was at least as funny, then.
I have a vague notion* that I have started losing my mind.
On Monday I locked myself out of my flat at 07h00 and I had to wake up the caretaker to let me back in. The caretaker is about seventy and wears a sexy white see-through nightie. It was very traumatic. I could not stop saying how sorry I was and she tried so say it was not so bad but really she wasn’t looking at it from my point of view.
Yesterday I walked halfway between the parking lot and my office three times because I kept on forgetting things in the car. My access card, the books I wanted to return to the library, and once because I was sure I forgot to lock it.
In the afternoon I missed my writing class because:
- I completely lost track of time, both of the day and the hour (I thought it was still Monday for most of the day, actually);
- Even when I told people I could not make meetings, etcetera, because I had a class on Tuesday afternoon it did to register that THAT day, was indeed Tuesday; and
- On the way to class, forty five minutes late, (my neighbour asked me, “Are you going to you studies?” when I was, in fact, going to gym, so I screamed off in the opposite direction) I convinced myself that there was no class on that particular Tuesday, so I turned around in the peak-hour traffic and came back home.
I did an extra 20 minutes on the bike to pay a penance of sorts.
Later Ruth phoned and in answer to the question “how are you” (early on in the conversation, as you can imagine) I spent 20 minutes telling her how I missed my class, what an idiot I felt and how I thought I was going nuts. “What? YOU?” she asked, in THAT tone of voice. I feel I should use the capitals here just to underline the fact that my best friend finds such behaviour in me incredibly surprising. “Stress,” she declared. “You are stressed.”
And then I think I spent another 20 minutes agreeing with her. (One can tell, I have decided, that I am stressed when I don’t update the blog for two or more weeks.)
So I forgave myself for the current flurry of madness, and resolved to no longer go about the place like an absolute airhead. I am smart and together and in control of my life. I am smart and together and… etc.
Today, however, I completely confused a member of my Reading the Media class with someone in my Investigative Journalism class, and did so in his presence, and unambiguously. “Margaret has been looking for you,” I said after we chatted for five minutes, and then Margaret walked past and I said to her, “Margaret, haven’t you been looking for Wale, here he is!” upon which they both looked at me like I had lost it and she said, “This is not Wale.” And he said, “I am not Wale.” And then of course, I knew that he was not Wale. “That was unbelievably embarrassing,” I said to him and he was kind enough to point out that black people often also thought that all white people looked alike.
Which of course made me feel much better.
Anyway. I had a story to write so I had to get over the squirm pronto.
But driving home this afternoon I had to muse over the alarming events of the last few days. I wondered if I was in the grip of early-onset Alzheimer’s and/or menopause, and if anything could be done about it. Should I go to the doctor? And if he confirmed my self-diagnosis, how would that help? These conditions are not reversible and the former is incurable. And frankly, who can afford to get THAT sick these days? Would I have put stickers in my shoes that say, “Toes first?” Would I have to listen to a looped soundtrack that reminded me to “breathe in, breathe out?” Would I start putting stamps on faxes? Would I have to lose the blonde hair colour to hide my shame? At what stage, I wondered, should I shoot myself in the head in order not to be a burden on someone who would feel sorry for me? How long before I forget to do even that?
I didn’t think of these as dark thoughts, actually, I thought of them as practical ones. Really, who wants to be less than the sum of their whole memory? (Although I could really do with forgetting the last three days forever.)
And then, as I sat down at the computer at home and opened the web page of my food diary (I started keeping one as I could not FATHOM why it was impossible for me to lose the (#) kilograms I gained in the last three years – now I know, and it makes a difference) and something wonderful was revealed to me.
The little weight I lost in the last three weeks came from my brain. Except that it was, unfortunately, not “ugly useless fat”, but working brain tissue, which is unfortunate. On the brighter side, however, I am an exceedingly smart girl with brains to spare, so I am confident that regardless of the loss, it will require only a short period of adjustment and rewiring for my smarts to come back and then I will be thin AND clever.
If the “adjustment/rewiring” period is shorter than two weeks, it would have been totally worth it. If not, well, perhaps at some stage I may get used to being thin and an idiot and forget what a smart cookie I used to be. As a bonus I will then also be sure to find a man who would want to marry me.
So, having discovered the reason for my current diminished capacity, I am relaxed enough to write a missive on the blog and clearly, for the moment, relatively stress free. It was Douw’s birthday on Sunday. Sometimes I miss him a lot.
* It is impossible for me to use this phrase without thinking of my best Calvin and Hobbes strip ever. Calvin meets Lucy at the school lockers, and he asks her, “What is it like being girl?” She is surprised. “What?” And he continues, “Is it like being a bug?” She is taken aback. “WHAT??” And then he explains: “I think both girls and bugs have a vague notion that nature has played a cruel trick on them, but they lack the intelligence to understand the magnitude of it.”
Then of course she beats him up and he gets the last word in, “I must have put my finger on it.”
My all-time favourite, really.