copyright © 2003 Ed Malin


by Ed Malin

An old man wearing a t-shirt that says "At My Age I’ve Seen It All, I’ve Heard It All, I’ve Done It All, I Just Can’t Remember It Al"l

Well, there are certain things I can remember. For instance, my daughter’s wedding. The day that we showed up and they told me, "Can’t have the wedding." I said whaddya mean I freakin’ can’t have the wedding, I just paid all this money for it. And they said, "Can’t have the wedding. The band got arrested on the way over for drunk driving. Any thought?" And I’m like, that’s the fuckin’ stupidest thing you could do in the world. Why would you drink before coming to the wedding. That’s where all the free booze is.

On the other hand I do remember certain things I’m not supposed to remember. Such as our son announced to us that he was living with another man. And since this did not sit well with my wife because that would mean there would be no second chance for a smooth wedding ceremony one day, where presumably the band would not be arrested, he was just going to have to not be our son anymore. And from that point, he and his boyfriend moved to Santa Fe–or was it Key West?–and my wife was fond of saying, "We do not have a son anymore. We have no son." And yet of all the things I do not remember, I certainly remember that once I did have a son.

And then there are those things in the middle. Such as, some people worry and lament and say, "I had all these great plans, and I didn’t get what I wanted in life." After all, a wise man once said, "You can’t always get what you want." Well for me, I can’t remember if I got what I want. Maybe I even did. In which case it would be sad but not unforgivable that I don’t remember it. Or maybe I didn’t. And in that case, I’m not so bad off not knowing. I’m just living. That’s what I’m doing here. In the nursing home.

Well they do actually have a reading room in this nursing home to encourage me to use my faculties. And I took out a book called the Metamorphoses of Ovid, who is a Latin poet after all. And at that point I had realized that all the Latin I had learned in Catholic school I had forgotten. However, this book was translated into English. And of all the things that I gave not forgotten, I certainly am quote proud that I still remember how to read. Reading is unforgettable as riding a bicycle–you always know how to do that. Although when it comes to the issue of potty training I’m afraid that sometimes I actually forget how that goes. But! Riding a bicycle, which I no longer do, because I’m too old, and reading fine works of the imagination are things that I could do for hours. And so I read. And I found a very interesting story under the Trojan War section. They say about Achilles, Achilles who was blessed by his mother, the river nymph Thetis and for invincibility was dipped into the river Styx so that he could not be harmed anywhere on his body except for the one place where his mother held him, which was his heel. So nevertheless she did fear for him because she knew that he was in some way vulnerable.. The man that he was, who was prophecied to come along and to be greater than his own father, and make wonderful things happen in the world. She was very afraid that he would make wonderful things happen in the world, so she hid him and when the soldiers were preparing to go fight Troy, she told her son, "Son, today you will put on this dress, and put on this veil, and you will walk with me, and put on these nice jewels, and accessories, and uh, here’s a choker for you, too. You look perfect. You look great. So we will go together, we will go to the market place, and you will stand by me and we will both be women so that they don’t come and take you and put you in the army. But, Odysseus was very smart, for Odysseus walked past the woman whom he saw and also noticed her calf muscles were rather large. And had set up a place to sell manly things such as spears and halberds and balls and chains. That sounds good. All sorts of manly weapons. So while Achilles and his mother browsed through the market, eventually Achilles came to the place where he started to heft the spear and try it out and after a few minutes of this, his taking aim and pretending to throw it, all the women were looking at him and all the men too and he realized that everyone knew that he was not a woman at all but from that point he would have to become a man, take off his dress, and go and fight, and screw, and do all the things that men do. So this stuck a chord for me because it has been true to me that whatever a man is, he is in a process more and more of turning away from being a woman. After all, the unfertilized egg and the fetus that can come of it, the potential is that of a female. Only the XY chromasome individuals turn away from the feminine state which all originally possessed, grows up and metaphorically does as Achilles did by denying all that is womanly.

Now, however, I am very old–I’m afraid I can’t tell you how old I am for I have forgotten the figure–but the things I do…I am now on a downward slope where I try to summon the strength to open that can of olives perhaps, or to pick up the ball that someone’s kid has hit over a fence onto the sidewalk and throw it back, but I can’t do that. I try but I become out of breath or end up throwing like a girl. I cannot do that. I cannot drive anymore; I must be the passenger. I am often not the one making plans for my own life. About the only thing I know how to do, when I do get the occasion, is to sit and to talk. To talk, indeed a very girlish thing.

Perhaps one day I will even learn to knit. Which would certainly take up a lot of my time. But I don’t think I ever will. Because if they teach me how to do it, I will simply forget.


"Alzheimer's" debuted February 7, 2003, performed by Ed Malin.

[Back to Library] Home