By Linda S. Gunther
I put on my reading glasses and flip through the pages of SENIOR TIME magazine which arrived today, a publication I usually throw away instead of reading. Junk mail I considered it, something I receive once a month with my membership. But why not look at it? Am I a snob? I open to the middle of the magazine - page 29.
The headline reads:
DEPRESSION QUIZ - Where are you on the scale?
I sit down on the sofa, open the drawer in my coffee table, take out a pen and look at the quiz.
Enter your ratings: 1 (none at all), 2 (More than 50% of time), or 3 (Almost every day)
Little interest or pleasure in doing things? I’ll give myself a 2.
Feel depressed? Damn, some days it’s a 3.
Tired or have little energy? Definitely a 3. I get tired before 4 o’clock.
Feel bad about yourself or that you’ve let your family down? Unfortunately, a 3. Told my son that I can’t watch his Pit Bull while he goes on vacation. Bloody scared of that dog.
Have problems concentrating? Crap, another 3. Hard to even follow a simple recipe.
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? A 3, no question. Half an Ambien is not working.
Poor appetite or overeating? Bear claw for breakfast. Burrito for lunch. A dangerous 3.
Speak or move slowly or so fidgety that it’s difficult to sit still? Okay, I give myself a 2, and glance down at my fidget widget on the coffee table.
When moving around, sometimes bump into things? I mark it with a 2, remembering the black and blue bruise slowly fading on my right hip.
Think sometimes that you’d be better off without this troubled life? Okay that's a 1. I gaze down at the page. 1.5? It’s a 2. Be honest. That’s bad! I mark it 1.
I read further down the page.
What does your DEPRESSION QUIZ SCORE MEAN?
Severe issues = 21 points or higher.
My score is 25. SEVERE. God. Was I too rough on myself?
On the opposite page, I see another headline: 20 SECONDS TO PROVE YOU’RE FIT. Prove it to whom? No, I’m not doing that one.
I turn the page.
IT’S ONLY A MATTER of TIME UNTIL YOUR AGE- RELATED MACULAR
DEGENERATION KICKS IN!
Beneath the headline, I see a black and white photo of an alarm clock and next to it another photo of the same clock, only the photo is totally blurred. I place my glasses down on the coffee table. My eyes feel tired, and there’s a headache brewing just behind them. I decide to get a cranberry juice from the fridge. Something to wake me up.
I look up at my green apple-shaped wall clock. What the hell? I can’t make out the time without glasses.
Back at the sofa, I put on my glasses, pick up SENIOR TIME, and flip to another page in the magazine. Headline:
ARE YOUR TEARS WORKING LIKE THEY USED TO?
I’m reminded that I haven’t had a good cry for months. Am I unable to shed tears now?
“Bastards. Manipulators,” I mumble to myself. I roll up the magazine and rush into the kitchen, almost tripping over the dog’s water bowl. My ankle is wet. Eyeing the trash bin, I raise my arm high, one leg raised behind me and toss the magazine in from at least three feet away. “Score!” I shout. Spark stops his toy chew play, waddles over, sits on his haunches looking at me.
I glance at the apple-shaped wall clock. I can actually make out that it’s just about 5 o’clock. Hooray! I wander back into the living room and turn on the TV to catch the evening news. Spark follows me, the ragged toy in his mouth. On the screen, a stocky, bald-headed, mustached man, in his 60’s sports a loud plaid shirt and belts out a song about some vial of pills he’s holding in his hand.
“Ho Ho Ho. Oh, oh oh. You’ll never believe it’s true! Ho, Ho, Ho. Oh, oh, oh. Your tummy will feel like new!” He does circular motions with his chubby hands on his middle as if rubbing a crystal ball, hoping for a miracle. As he finishes the tune, the camera pans in on his face. “Ask your doc about this one!” he says, and winks.
I look over at my dog. “I can remember when they didn’t allow drug commercials on TV,” I say out loud. “I can remember when nobody told me to go ask my doctor about some advertised medication. I stand up and scream. “Yes, I CAN remember!” Spark drops his dog toy and races downstairs to hide, his behavior identical to when there’s fireworks outside the window on the 4th of July.
“It’s okay, Spark!” I call out. “I’ve got another toy for you,” I say. I pick up his stuffed purple rabbit and wait for Spark’s return. I give up, pick up the remote, switch off the TV, and sit down on the dog-haired covered goose-down stuffed sofa. Forget the news. I don’t want to see one more damn drug ad.
Barely able to reach the coffee table from the sunken sofa, I manage to snatch up my cell phone. Time for some Solitaire on my Senior Play app. Good exercise for the brain. And bonus - it won’t remind me just how freakin’ old I am! I tap my finger to turn on my cell phone. No sign of life. Dead battery. Forgot to charge it last night.
I sink into the sofa tilting my head back on the head cushion. Spark jumps up next to me and snuggles up. I shake my head and laugh, touch my nose to his, then sing out: “Ho Ho Ho. Oh, oh oh. You’ll never believe it’s true! Ho, Ho, Ho. Oh, oh, oh. Your tummy will feel like new!” Spark wags his tail and nuzzles me.