"A little ditty about Jack and Diane, two American kids doin' the best they can."

Sometimes I get a column idea and jot down a few reminder words as indicated above by the lyrics of John Mellencamp — or Cougar, or Cougar Mellencamp, or whoever his record company wanted him to be back then. The only problem with my method is that there are occasions when the words on the page aren't the trigger I need to remember my idea. And if I don't have a clue what I'm writing, you certainly won't.

I have very dear friends named Jack and Dianne. They came to our house for a dinner party. Jack, always the entertainer, made me laugh hysterically. The following day I must have thought it would make for an amusing column, so I jotted down the above lyrics to jog my memory. Now the memory is blurred by Mellencamp's tune running through my vacuous head. Obviously I foiled my own plan.

The other day my husband, John, and I were at Panera Bread. Our order number was 438, which I kept forgetting every time they called a different number. I kept looking at my receipt and it drove me bonkers. It drove me so bonkers that when we sat down to eat, I told John that I would now remember that our order number was 438 for the rest of eternity. I couldn't remember the number when I needed it and now I can't forget it.


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I know that garlic is a great memory booster and I now include a substantial amount of raw garlic — I have an already long list of vegetables and fruit — when we juice. I don't think it's helping. I also know that doing crossword puzzles is a great brain stimulator, but I cannot retain random and general trivia, hence I am terrible at crossword puzzles. I do play Sudoku when time allows, but I don't think that's helping either.

My dad told me that he recently taught himself to write with his left hand, or perhaps it's that he's learned to sign his name with his left hand, I can't recall which. He explained that learning to do new things stimulates brain activity. When I checked with his "leader" as he likes to refer to my mom, she told me that he can indeed sign his name with his left hand, but it's completely illegible.

I walked into the laundry room to do something; did something totally unrelated and left the room. Felt really good about myself until I realized that I needed to do something other than what I just did, but couldn't recall what. I had to go back to what I was doing prior to getting up in the first place, so that I could jog my memory. There is a reason I have lists, but if I don't remember to write it down, the list is useless.

The other day, John and I were walking — it's our form of exercise. I was in the middle of telling a story and he interrupted with an urgent and loud mouth noise. The sound was so alarming that I thought an emergency situation was unfolding, but I couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. He needed to tell me, at that exact moment in time, that while he was driving home that evening, he had stopped at a light. He looked over and saw the most amazing scene. He saw a woman signing to a blind man.

"How did you know the man was blind?" I asked.

"Because he was wearing sun glasses and carried a sight-impaired walking cane," he answered.

"Having those two items doesn't necessarily mean that the man was completely sightless and maybe the woman was speaking while she was signing," I added.

There were a few more possible scenarios that we hashed out in detail. By the time we finished that little ditty, I couldn't remember what I was talking about.

On the same walk, John interrupted me again to point out a bird. He regularly points out birds. He used to urgently point while I was driving, and the pointing included throwing his arm in the direction of the bird, even if it meant to his left, which was in front of my face. I had to ask him to refrain from urgent hand and arm motions as a passenger. I now have a No Flailing rule in place. It helps, but is not a cure-all. Use at your own risk.

Now I think of us as old people. One cannot remember and the other interrupts with unrelated topics. The conversations are a challenge to complete, and while most of them are left unfinished, we somehow we seem to manage. Viewing it in that light, I am constantly entertained. It can take us 20 minutes to get through one two-minute story, if we're lucky.

So, as it turns out, this is a little ditty about John and Michelle, two American kids doin' the best they can.