Aging With Attitude Archives The strain of brain drain

The strain of brain drain


Many years ago, during a long, drunken weekend in New York City, I was stumbling through Greenwich Village at 2 in the morning when I somehow chanced upon this little shop with a brain for sale.

Not a monkey brain, calf brain or a pig brain. It was a human brain, and it was sloshing around in a laboratory jar filled with preserving fluid, looking exactly like a prop left over from some cut-rate sci-fi movie. The creepy guy running the place told me it came from India. “Really good quality,” he said. “You’d be very happy with it.”

Even so, I didn’t buy the brain, not because I had any moral objections to plundering the third world for vital body parts, but because I couldn’t afford the price, which was about twice what I made in a month. In retrospect, though, that seems cheap enough for having some backup capability in case the brain I’ve been using finally starts to show the wear and tear of all the drunken weekends since then.

Which hasn’t happened yet, although … hmmm … now what was I rambling on about? Something like … uh … oh yeah, brain rot.

Fortunately, I haven’t yet needed replacement parts to remember whatever it was I did the night before. I have a wife for that. She’s also good at supplying me with the names of close friends and relations (“He’s your grandson, so stop calling him Hugo Cha?vez”), and always seems to know where I’ve left my pants, my iPad, my dogs and my self-restraint. I can’t imagine what I’d ever do if she started to decline mentally.

Although, come to think of it, lately she’s sometimes taken to referring to me as “Ralph.” At first, I just assumed she was having an affair, but then it occurred to me that this sort of mental mistake might be a sign she’s starting to slide into la-la land. If so, it’ll mean some major changes in my life.

For one thing, I won’t have to be nearly as devious. It’ll be a big relief not taking elaborate precautions to conceal the still, the meth lab and the other wife. Particularly that last one. I’ve always been afraid that if my two spouses ever met, I wouldn’t be able to remember one of their names.

Ha, ha, just kidding in that last paragraph. I don’t really have a meth lab.

Although, I do have a laboratory full of scientific gizmos, where I experiment on reviving corpses I’ve dug up. So far, I’ve had mixed success, due to the lack of a suitable brain. All I’ve been able to create is a couple of U.S. senators.

Wait, I just remembered my other wife’s name. It’s Ygorre.

Which brings us back to that Indian brain that, much to my regret, I didn’t buy. If I had, I could have scrubbed it clean of all the extraneous information it contained (how to look cool in a Nehru jacket). Then, I could have filled it with the vital cerebral material I need to get through the day (how to look cool when you’ve forgotten where you left your pants). A couple of electrodes, a few wires, a jolt from a lightning bolt or an energy drink and I’d be mentally functioning as if I were 45 years younger.

Which means my thought processes would be producing this sort of thing:

Like, dude, like it was, like, so out there, you know, like … whatever. Hey, anybody want to go for, like, a curry?

That should serve as a fearsome reminder to those of us who still have our wits about us that there are far worse things in life than Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Anyway, the point of all this bizarre speculation about my dimly remembered encounter with a brain dealer is … er … well, I’m pretty certain I must have had something important I wanted to tell you about. I mean, I hardly ever write one of these columns filled with tastelessly lurid accounts of my unseemly behavior simply to annoy my editors – many of whom seem to be exhibiting signs of extreme discomfort whenever the subject turns to transplanting secondhand brains into heads with expired warranties. It’s almost as if they’ve got something to hide.

Besides those stitches on their foreheads.

I’m probably just imagining all that. Although I have noticed they eat an awful lot of curry.

In addition to serving as the voice of his generation, Al Diamon writes the weekly column Politics & Other Mistakes, which runs in several Maine newspapers and websites. He’s also the media critic for The Bollard magazine. He can be emailed at, particularly if you’ve found his pants.


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