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Published on January 16th, 2014 | by Richard Black


“Whatsit”, “Whosehername” and Other Useful Phrases

No one really likes to talk about it but children make their parents stupid. I wish I could put it more eloquently but there it is.

It might be sleep deprivation and the constant attention a small child requires, attention that would otherwise be used for doing dishes, breathing or digestion. Then again every kid may come equipped with some sort of idiocy field that goes away once they leave the home for good.

I couldn’t say. I’m not a doctor, at least, not in this country.

Either way the point is moot and I’ve seen the writing on the wall. Upon becoming a parent the next twenty or so years of my life will read like the last half of “Flowers for Algernon”. Like the title character of the book, I  remember the man I once was; a reasonably attractive, somewhat bright and marginally productive member of society who didn’t need to spend twenty minutes inspecting the stability of the pantry shelves before remembering to bring up a can of diced tomatoes to the kitchen.

Even more horrifying than the rapid decline in my mental faculties I can see the man that I’m becoming and he looks and sounds a lot like my father, specifically the way I saw my father when I was living under his roof which is to say, a moron.

I spent the bulk of my teen years under the assumption that my father suffered from a stroke at some point rendering him ambulatory and affable but unable to remember anything that happened after the Carter administration. I generously estimate that I was called by my given name about 20% of the time by my father. The rest of the time I knew I was being addressed, not because I was called by name, but because my father would run through each and every one of my five sibling’s name’s and then gesture frantically in my general direction.

I spent a good three years going by Karavid, a curious mix of my stepmother’s name combined with that of my oldest brother. I’ve devoted a lot of time not thinking about why my father chose that particular blend and I see no reason to start now.

These days I find myself doing the same sorts of things. To date I’ve called Darcy by the names of my wife, my sister, my mother, an ex girlfriend and our dog who passed away over two years ago and I’ve been inclined to be more charitable towards the old man’s lapses in proper nouns or diction.

At least my father had a legitimate excuse to forget a name or to pick one of us from a soccer practice. He had six kids to tend to when he wasn’t busting his ass at the office. I’m a stay at home dad with only one to look after and I can barely manage not to call her by the dog’s name when she wanders off at the grocery store.

More and more often I find myself using phrases and gestures just like my old man. “You know who I mean, it’s whosehername the one who starred in that movie” or “Hey honey can you pass me that thingamajigger”.

I can still remember the times when the old man would drift off in the middle of a sentence with his arms outstretched as if he could pull the right word out of the air. It never happened. Instead he’d stomp his feet a few times as his face turned beet red and wave his arms wildly around before saying “

Shortly after we all went to college or moved out of the house, around the time I was considering whether I’d have to puree my father’s dinner and cut up his veggies into little bite sized portions, the old man regained most of his vocabulary and diction. He even went to school and got a doctorate in addition to a JD but that’s another story.

Suffice it to say that take hope in the idea that I may finally regain my full mental capabilities at some point. I’ll be sixty something at the time but that’s another unpleasantry I’m choosing to ignore and until my daughter Whatshername marries or goes off to school I’ll just have to do the best I can and, hope my wife won’t put me in a Whatchamacallit home or bludgeon me to death with one of those newfangled Whatsies I’ve seen on the TV.

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