Brain Trust

By: Dick Wolfsie

I love to walk up and down the bookstore aisles occasionally removing something from the shelves to sample, hoping it fits my tastes. The people at Barnes and Noble are totally okay with this, but that habit has gotten me kicked out of Kroger about six times.

Recently, I decided to search the shelves for a book that might help me address a problem I am facing. My memory is not what it used to be. I tried Prevagen but that was a total waste of money. They tout the product as made from jellyfish, one of the few animals in the world with no brain.

I did find one book:  Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises. For a fathead like me, this is the perfect read. The author contends that there is not enough unpredictability in our lives. We get into a rut because our brains take the easiest paths—the routes we are most accustomed to.  Dr. Katz throws in some cerebral references to axons, dendrites and synapses to make it all sound very scientific, but it was lost on me.  On a biology exam in college, I labeled the parts of the inner ear but it turned out it was a picture of a woman’s reproductive system. I did get partial credit.

This book encourages you to use each of your senses in new and innovative ways. One of the author’s suggestions is to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, thus creating new neural pathways. I tried it one night and found the experience instructive.  I then used my other hand to clean the toothpaste out of my nose and inside my ear.

In order to enhance your appreciation of good food, says Katz, stick plugs in your ears. This permits you to fully enjoy what is on your plate, focusing only on taste.  I totally forgot to tell Mary Ellen I was doing this so I didn’t hear a word she said during dinner for almost a week. Fortunately, she didn’t notice the difference. The book also suggests that to fully experience the texture of food, you should hold your nose when you eat. My wife did notice this on that first night when she had prepared what I assume was a delicious dinner.  She was not happy, but I got a nice note from Grub Hub thanking me for all my subsequent take-out orders 10 nights in a row.

There is also a chapter on sex.  Dr. Katz encourages you to have a romantic dinner with your partner, and “to be sure to enjoy some flowers and candles.”  I choked down a few rose petals, but the candles made me gag.  For another novel experience, Dr. Katz suggests you switch cars with a nearby friend for a day so you can   have a new tactile experience behind the wheel.   Of course, remember to tell your neighbor before you do this, or you can then look forward to really feeling something new:  your hands cuffed behind your back.

My favorite suggestion is to eliminate the traditional grocery list. Instead of jotting down the name of each item, write a description instead so you can fully appreciate its qualities.  I tried that. On my shopping list I wrote: “It’s about the size and shape of a soccer ball, tannish, heavily veined and dimpled.

I was talking about a cantaloupe, but it sounded a lot like my rear end.

– Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@