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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I have a couple of things that are important to me that I want to write about, but I am having so much trouble composing what I want to say that I have decided to just review some of the symptoms and results of age (or coothood, if you will.)

Last week in a television show that involved detective work and doctors I noted an actor who was once a pretty good friend. We worked on our doctorates together, and worked together at the Lincolnland Summer Theatre where I was company manager and he was the star (Young Abe Lincoln). It brought back a lot of good memories, and the role in the show was superbly acted (he played an old man, somewhat tragically reliving early parts of his life) . I dashed to the computer and began to write when suddenly I realized that I no longer had any idea what his name was. After some thought, I finally came up with David but couldn't remember the rest.

This was frustrating because I knew that many of you had seen him perform, and that even as a doctoral student (with a lovely wife) he had become a teen idol playing Quentin the werewolf in the daytime drama DARK SHADOWS. I was about to regale all with his story of how that role had evolved from his work on the history of a well known amateur theatre when I reflected that
the story would lose much of its punch as it became apparent to all that I didn't remember my "good friend's" name.

Yesterday, I was surfing the channels on the TV before giving up and going to bed when I came across, perhaps the last ten minutes of a TV movie, starring Ben Affleck, I think, wherein he plays some lonely rich guy who paid a family in his home town to let him share their Christmas (which he destroys). The final scene showed a ten second flash of my friend playing the father of some girl in the town who sees "Ben" kissing a girl who had introduced him to the town as here brother. As the father he tossed out a couple of lines, well delivered but which, for an actor as talented as he, could have been mailed in. (He probably had a major role in most of the film, but I was only watching the conclusion.)

Immediately I thought "there's David again", and wonder of wonders I remembered his last name, David Selby (Quentin the werewolf as well as the lead in one of the major night time soaps for several years, etc.)

I rushed to the computer again because now I remembered his name and could write something coherent, only to realize that now, I couldn't remember the name of the show in which I thought he was brilliant. It is pretty obvious that I also can't remember the darn name of the night time soap, that I could remember well until I sat at the keyboard.

One of the most frustrating things about being "three score years and ten-- and more" is the amount of time one spends trying to fill in the blanks of memory that come up in conversations, when writing, when giving speeches, even when one watches a play in which he has played a major role and can't remember how it comes out. (One advantage is being able to read books over and over again, still being surprised at the ending. We often go to yard sales and pick up books, which I will often hand to Janet asking "Have we read this?" She has a great memory in spite of illness and strokes, and can always remember.)

One other comment. My friend David looked appropriately aged in the medical/detective drama whatever it was, but in the Ben Affleck movie he was absolutely disgustingly young with red hair. Has he no shame or concern for his friends who become decrepit normally.


At 11:42 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I'm not convinced that memory deteriorates with age. It definitely changes. I've read a theory that, as one ages, one tends to only remember what is necessary.

Thanks to the Internet, I no longer fill my head with clutter. For instance - armed with one fact: that he had acted in DARK SHADOWS would have made me look up DARK SHADOWS on IMDB because that would have a pictures of all the actors.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Michael Nielsen said...

Dick, Patrick is right: IMDB.com is your friend. Here is Dark Shadows on IMDB. There you can see David Selby played in 305 episodes of Dark Shadows. I never had the good fortune of seeing the program, but people obviously loved it-- a score of 8.2 / 10 is extremely high.


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