The door opens and in walks a man with the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the head of Albert Einstein.
"Hello, Dr. Hassenpfeffer," I say.
"Good morning, Lindka. Vhat seems to be ze problem?" he asks.
"Vell, I mean well, I think I might have Alzheimer's. I seem to be awful forgetful."
"Hmmmmm. Vhy don't you lie down on dis nice comfortable couch and tell me vhen you started to notice dis forgetfulness."
"It all started many years ago. One day I came home from work, began making dinner, started folding a load of laundry while trying to study for a test. (I had recently gone back to school.) I got a phone call from my daughter's daycare center asking me if I was planning on picking her up soon because they were ready to close. Twenty-eight years later, Becky still throws that in my face!"
"Hmmmmm," says Dr. Hassenphfeffer as he scribbles something on my chart. "Go on."
"One time when Becky's tooth fell out, she had to place it under her pillow four nights in a row. Do you know how hard it was to convince her the Tooth Fairy wasn't really dead, just on vacation?"
"I zee," he says and scribbles some more.
"Another time I bought Christmas cards for my family and lost them. It was a year and a half later I found them, in the garage, behind an old tire."
"Then another time, I drove Harry's pick-up to the grocery store and forgot how to put the gear shift into reverse! We must have sat there for at least five minutes. Becky, who didn't drive yet, had to tell me what to do," I say as I shudder recalling that frightening moment.
"Vell, have zere been any recent occurrences?" he asks.
"One day I was leaving for work the same time Harry was. I was just about to get in the car when he asked why I was taking the dining room TV remote control with me to work. I looked down in my hand and sure enough, there it was. I don't even remember picking it up. Another time, he found it in the drawer with the potholders and dishtowels and he asked me if that's where I wanted it. About a month ago, it totally disappeared. It's still missing. It's driving me crazy!" I cry.
"And do you know how embarrassing it is to see an acquaintance in the grocery store and I can't remember her name?"
"Zere Zere, Stella," Dr. Hassenpfeffer pats my shoulder comfortingly. "Anythink else?"
"The name's Linda. Well, the most recent incident happened just a few days ago. I parked my car at a gas station, walked to the drugstore and then to another store. I walked back to the gas station and couldn't find my car. I thought someone stole it! I was beginning to panic, ready to call the police when a friend saw me looking confused and asked if I was okay. I told him I thought my car had been stolen. He asked me what I had been doing, then asked if I could have possibly parked it somewhere else. Suddenly I remembered walking back from the third store, getting in the car and driving it back to the third store and parking it there. I was so embarrassed!
"Dr. Hassenpfeffer. Do I have Alzheimer's?" I ask fearfully.
"Hmmmmm. Vhat day of ze veek is it?" he asks.
"Is this a test?" I ask.
"Nein naught. I yust vant to know vhat day of ze veek it is."
Then he hands me a stick of gum, asks me to chew it, walk around, rub my stomach with one hand while patting the top of my head with another.
As I'm trying to do it, and failing miserably, I ask what this test will prove.
"Nothingk. I just like to see my patients look silly vhile I try to figure out vhat's wrong vith zem," he chuckles.
He walks over to his bookshelf, pulls out a heavy tome and begins to turn page after page. He finally appears to find what he's been looking for.
"Do you have sveaty palms?" he asks.
"No," I reply and he looks perplexed and begins turning more pages.
"Do you experience tingling in your left ear lobe?"
"No. Are these symptoms of Alzheimer's?" I ask with trepidation.
"Nein naught. I yust vanted to know if you had sveaty palms and tingling ear lobes."
Finally, he slams the book shut and looks up at me.
"Vell, I think you yust have a bad case of Forgetfulitis," he says.
"Is there a cure for Forgetfulitis?" I ask tremulously.
He shakes his great strubbly white-haired head negatively. "Nein naught. I'm afraid it's somethink you'll have to learn to live vith. If it's any consolation, you share this dreaded disease with millions of others."
"Is there some kind of medication I can take to make it better?" I ask hopefully.
"Vell, some people like to try natural herbs like Ginkgo biloba or ginseng but zere ist nein naught prescription I can give you for Forgetfulitis."
He pats my shoulder, puts his pen in the dirt of a nearby plant, and walks into a closet.
I stare at the closed door, perplexed. The closet door opens, he walks out, crosses the room and opens the right door to exit. As he leaves, I hear him ask his nurse, "Have you zeen my glasses?"
She points to the top of his head.
"Ach, now who put zem up zere?" he wonders.
No better off than I was when I walked in, I leave Dr. Hassenpfeffer's office, feeling doomed to spend the rest of my days looking for misplaced sunglasses, keys, people and thoughts. I ponder how to deal with ... umm now what did he say I had? Forget, Forget, Forget something or other ... Oh well. I do remember he said it wasn't fatal. Or did he? Now wait. Did he tell me I'd be better in six months if I rubbed my stomach and chewed gum?
Oh why didn't I write that down?