Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You Know...the Whatdaya-Call it...Part 2

I heard from a lot of you that you related to my issues with word retrieval (if you recall, my memory lapses included the words "cutting board," "counter-intuitive," and "iPhone.") I recently read this article by Cathleen Schine from the April issue of More, and thought you might get a chuckle out of it too.

This excerpt is the best part and explains it all, especially the utter surprise I always feel when I can't readily produce the word I have in mind...

"“That book . . . the one about . . . you know . . . ” I say.

“By what’s his name?” Sarah says.

“No, the other one, the other one . . . ” Molly says.

“Oh, that book!” Sarah cries.

“That one, yes, that one!” I say.

“By her!” Molly says, and we all nod happily.

This conversation took place in a publisher’s office a year or so ago: a writer, an editor and an agent, all of us the same age, all of us waving our arms and nodding vigorous encouragement to the others, as if we were hunting dogs, huge-pawed puppies in the woods of middle-aged memory just learning to retrieve dead ducks, gingerly, in our big slobbery jaws. Scientists call this inability to recall a name “TOT,” or tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. It has something to do with the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortices. I’m sure there are scientific names for many of the varieties of memory challenges I live with, though few, I suspect, with such a jolly, colloquial ring as TOT."
(MORE, April 2010, Cathleen Schine)

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