Cumberland Times-News

August 11, 2012

There’s more than one way to take a trip

Maude McDaniel, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— I’ve been birdbrained for years. I used to call it absent-minded, just for the academic prestige of the thing. But now that drug-freak professors like Timothy Leary are reaching new heights in absentmindedness, I prefer to think of myself as, well, muddleheaded. And I’m here to tell you that nobody needs drugs to take a trip. My mind does it all the time, without benefit of hash, heroin, or marajuana.

All you need to do is live awhile. You’ll find yourself capable of doing any number of dumb things before you’re twenty, At least, that’s been my experience.

As a child I had the total recall of Portnoy, the chap with all the complaints. But then, the spring of my eighteenth year, I began to introduce my college roommate and couldn’t remember her name. It was the start of an illustrious career.

My skills expanded rapidly. It wasn’t long before I could forget names of songs (“Smoke Gets In Your ——?”); telephone numbers (“Dial — for Operator?”) and famous sayings (“Give me liberty or give me ——-?”)

Marriage raised me to new heights. I forgot to change my shoes one Sunday and showed up for church (which was next door in those days) in my hot-pink Comfee-Shaggee-Loungees. They were much admired at the time.

A lot of my work is routine stuff. I discovered unsuspected talents in the matter of mislaying combs, magazines, and flour sifters. We’ve lived in five different places since our marriage, and each one contains hidden treasures of lost articles somewhere in the walls. Someday I plan to go back with a Geiger counter and retrieve my favorite blouse, my husband’s gold cufflinks, and the dining room table.

It was parenthood, though, that really developed my gift. My husband (from now on we will refer to him as Mh to please Women’s Libbers who like that sort of thing) Mh often tells me, laughing a little (he thinks it’s a compliment) that I lost half my remaining wits with each child. We have three so you can see where that leaves me, I’d work it out for you but for the life of me I can’t remember how to do fractions.

Church always brings out the best in a person. I started out in a blaze of glory by completely forgetting my son in the church nursery, when I rushed home after the service to put on the potatoes. He was just starting to walk and never did make it home in time for dinner.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not always at my peak. Mh has to remind me what his name is occasionally. (You don’t really believe I’m calling him Mh just to please Women’s Lib?) And the children introduce themselves to me every morning before school, just to be on the safe side. Still, I manage a small triumph once in awhile when they come home in the wrong order.

Lately, things have been looking up. An unprecedented number of things have unaccountably disappeared from the room shortly after I handled them. And not too long ago I dropped off a bewildered passenger at a house three blocks away from her home. This was understandable, because the houses look alike, but my daughter was quite indignant about it when she finally got home.

Still, I doubt if I will ever surpass the highlight of my career. That was the Thanksgiving I put the turkey to roast in the kitchen cupboard. We didn’t discover it until it was time to put on the potatoes, and I basked in the glory of supreme achievement for days. Those are the moments you dream about — and I did it all without drugs.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.