Friday, September 8, 2017

The First Brain Rule for Aging Well

Let me tell you how and why I came to own this bookmark advertising a free audio book called "Brain Rules for Aging Well." Or why I think I came to own it, anyway.

My friend who teaches college in Denver always has great book recommendations, especially novels, and I needed a new one.

A novel that I could really invest in for a week, you understand. One I wouldn't be tempted to throw across the room in disgust in favor of binge-watching "Murderous Affairs" on Netflix or scrolling through social media in spiraling despair.

A long novel worthy of a prestigious literary prize, or at least a nomination for one? A novel whose every other turn of phrase I could marvel at in respect and awe. Like The Goldfinch or Middlesex or something substantive and memorable like that.

The Nix, by Nathan Hill. That would be my next fiction love affair, and I trusted my infallible matchmaker that it would not disappoint.

This wouldn't be another thin, dime-a-dozen diaspora memoir written by an orphaned lesbian llama farmer from Yemen, endorsed by Oprah, and discarded in the front seat pocket of 19D after a two-hour flight.

It was an 800-page paperweight by a boring 30-something white dude. And no one in publishing gives fiction book deals to boring, 30-something white dudes anymore, probably with good reason. So if Nathan Hill from Iowa wrote a national bestseller in 2017, the book had to be pretty good, is what I'm getting at here.

"I think there's a Tattered Cover in the airport," my friend offered helpfully. And it was with no small feeling of triumph that I found it not 50 feet from my gate, bleary-eyed and even more haggard-looking than usual at 5:47 a.m.

The problem was, it was closed.

Through the grated metal slats of the shuttered, sterile looking airport box store I could see a late-20s hipster with a manbun and a security badge on a lanyard. He was counting change in the cash register, and it was clear he had no plans to unlock the doors to this bookstore even one nanosecond before he had to, which according to the internet was 5:00 a.m., and as I said earlier it was now 5:47.

I made a soft but desperate scratching sound on the doors with the knuckle of my right forefinger. In my left hand I held a grande iced soy latte from Starbucks; beads of cold water were condensing around the black Sharpie of my misheard name: 


Manbun glanced up briefly with lazy disinterest, as if I was a stray alley cat prowling for fish scraps, and turned his head back down to the register. I backed away a few steps but firmly planted myself in front of the store, lurking there to let Manbun know that I knew that he was 47 minutes late for work.

A few moments later, Manbun opened the gates in a way that made clear he was just doing his job, albeit belatedly--not going out of his way to do me (of all people) any favors.

I found the Nix and went to pay for it. "Would you like a free bookmark?," Manbun asked. I thought I detected a passive aggressive undertone in his voice, and I think I was right.

Because of all the free bookmarks behind the counter--and I could see there were a few--this is the one Manbun handed to me.

I'm almost 40 now, so I know. The first brain rule for aging well is this: Always assume that a younger person is trying to insult your intelligence.

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