34 Comments

  1. Because you can’t remember what things are called, resulting in references to “the thingamajig” and “the whatsit.” And of course “Whatshername.”

  2. It’s not well-phrased, but I think the idea is that sometime in middle age you lose your energy, and also increasingly can’t find the right words for things. If that was the intent, “words” would have been more logical than “nouns,” but would have also possibly been too dark, since it would have had more of an implication of dementia.

  3. Both SB and WW make sense; thanks. Part of my not understanding resulted from reading “middle ageS” when the comic only said “middle age.”

  4. Thank you chemgal, for pointing that out. I didn’t read carefully, and made the same mistake you did. Now that I see it was about “middle age” not “the middle ages”, it’s actually funny.

  5. Recalling a very similar cartoon where the Reaper confronts a terrified woman and says something like, “Relax. I’m only taking your muscle tone, your ability to digest French fries and the girlish timbre of your voice.”

  6. Or the current TV ads, where Death is on site to take the appliances. (Buy our home warranty!)

  7. I have to say — I really DO mainly lose nouns. I’m pretty good at verbs, and, while I can’t always get the EXACT adjective or adverb I’m looking for, there are usually ones nearby that are close enough to use.

  8. Science fiction fan Tom Digby many years ago coined the all-purpose word “plergb” to use for, well, anything. I find it handier than “whatchamacallit” and the like. At least when I can remember it. It’s mostly a noun, but it can also be a plergb or used as a plergb in plergb situations.

    https://people.well.com/user/bubbles/Plergb.html

  9. I know someone who has no problem speaking until they need to use a noun. It might be a very common noun, but they cannot think of the word. It’s a problem that occurs often, and only with nouns.

  10. “Science fiction fan Tom Digby many years ago coined the all-purpose word “plergb” to use for, well, anything. I find it handier than “whatchamacallit” and the like”

    But sometimes you need a whatchamacallit, and sometimes you need a doohickey, and sometimes a whatsis.

  11. @ Arthur – Not often, but occasionally my grandmother had trouble latching onto the correct name to address the particular kid standing in front of her (one out of seven). After one or two errors, she would then exclaim, “Oh for heaven’s sake … Arthur!!!” This was functionally equivalent to “Hey you!“, because none of my uncles (nor aunts) was named “Arthur”.

  12. I don’t think forgetting names is necessarily an age thing: my mother always did it when we were growing up, and sometimes took four tries to get the right name (there were four of us). I made fun of her, and she took great joy when I started doing the same thing with my kids (though I take it one better and sometimes call my sons by my brothers’ names).

    When my younger so switched from soccer to hockey, my brain continued to insist on calling it “soccer-I-mean-hockey,” and finally he said “Just call it soccer, as long as you drive me to the right place.”

  13. @ Bill – Sorry, I didn’t make that clear: the “Age of Arthur” was back when my mom was growing up with her six siblings, and nothing age related. That happened later. In any case, I myself was a victim of the name juggling problem, occasionally applying my wife’s name to my son, or vice-versa. With two kids, the permutations for potential name exchanges increased dramatically. In one memorable instance, I adressed my son with my own first name. Ooops. I have no trouble believing that seven kids could lead to insurmountable identification problems (at least briefly).

  14. It’s catching.

    My mother confused my name and my sister’s throughout the time we both lived in her house. Many years later, she often confuses my daughter with hers (my sister). Every time my sister would visit from out-of-state, it was just a matter of time until mom mixed the two up. Eventually, I’d do it, too.

  15. Happens with dogs’ names, too . . . esp. if you have had many in one’s life, including fosters. By the time I get to the right name, whatever s/he was doing that needed correcting was long over with . . . eventually, I just yell out, ‘Whatever your name is, don’t do that!”

  16. We had eight kids in the family. Six were boys, all with names beginning with ‘B’. So the frequency of calling them by the wrong name was high. Sometimes my mother would have to run through several to get to the right one.

  17. My half-sister has eight kids (five boys and three girls), all of whom were given five-letter names starting with an “L” and containing no “I” or “t” (she said, to avoid having to dot or cross any letter when writing it out, for some reason): Larry, Lance, Lelan, Lyden, Layne, LuRae, LaVon, Lynda.

    I suspect the kids got called by the wrong names fairly often, but since she had moved out and began spawning by the time I would have been old enough to notice such things, I never observed it.

  18. ” eventually, I just yell out, ‘Whatever your name is, don’t do that!””

    They all answer to “dog!”, if the tone of your voice is raised.

  19. Growing up, it was just my brother and me, but my mother would manage to go through an entire roster of cousins and pets (present and deceased) before getting to the right name.

  20. First they came for the energy but I did nothing, because I am not energy. Then they came for the nouns but I still did nothing, because I am not a noun.

  21. In 9th grade, a guy called the math teacher Mom.
    In high school, the chemistry teacher once yelled “lunchtime” to get us in the classroom.
    Quite often, I’ll be speaking French and only the English words come to my mind (and reciprocally).

  22. “They don’t know they’re dogs.”

    On the Internet, NOBODY knows they’re dogs!

  23. @ Shrug – I did not worry about “i” or “t”, but when I distilled a list of candidate names for our kids, I did discard anything that contained “J/K/X/Y/Z/Ä/Ö/Ü”. I won’t go too far into detail, except to say that “J” would immediately lead to pronunciation uncertainty (between English and German forms), and the Umlauts would have been very difficult for any American agency to handle. However, one very obscure (or “oddball”, and ultimately irrelevant) detail that I checked was to verify whether any adjacent letters in the final name would repeat the same key on a 9-key telephone keyboard (2=ABC, 3=DEF, 4=GHI, 5=JKL, 6=MNO, 7=PQRS, 8=TUV, 9=WXYZ). Those systems were still in use when I was selecting names, but they have all but disappeared now.

  24. @ larK – Different reasoning: we eliminated “K” to avoid repeating the sound (or even worse, the initial) already present in the family name. Similarly, anyone who already has a “Y” in a family name does not need another one in the first name. Other letters that I avoided included “Q” (effectively a “K” sound), and “V” & “W” (like “J”, because of English/German pronunciation variations).
    My wife preferred to browse through baby name books, but I used a database table, which made it very easy to eliminate categories of names wholesale, and then I just read what was left over.

  25. Kilby – When my paternal grandmother was older (not so old – she only lived into her 60s) she could not remember our names. She had 3 sons from whom she had 8 grandchildren.

    If she wanted to say something to my youngest sister who was the youngest of the 8 she would start with my dad – her oldest son and work her way down through her sons to her grandchildren until she reached the one she wanted –
    Chuck, Henry, Al (the sons), Steve, Meryl, Burt, Robin, Paul, Nan, Jane, Erica – Erica – come here.

    And she was the fun grandmother.

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