I’ve been reading some terrific reviews of the new movie Still Alice, but I haven’t been able to make myself actually go see it yet. It’s not that I don’t think it will be good enough to be worth my time and the price of admission. I’ve read the book, and it was very good, and I’d kind of like to see how the book compares to the movie. It’s just that the book struck a little too close to home, because it is about a middle aged woman who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. And I have a horrible memory, and it’s getting worse all the time.
I don’t know about the movie, but early in the book, there’s a scene in which the Alice, the main character, is out for a jog on a path she has run daily for years, and suddenly looks around and realizes that she has no idea where she is or how to get home. Her memory has begun to desert her, and the rest of the book deals with how she is diagnosed with the disease and struggles to cope. So now every time I have a lapse in memory, I find myself worrying, “is this normal, post-menopause memory loss? Or is this just like that early scene in Still Alice?”
To be fair, I’ve never had a great memory. My family still teases me about the time when I was about ten years old and put a glass bottle of Coke in the freezer to chill it more quickly. Naturally, I forgot about it, but I did find out that when you leave a glass bottle of carbonated beverage in the freezer too long, it explodes, coating the entire freezer with frozen Coke and shards of glass. And that your parents will not be happy about it, either.
Then I hit menopause, and found that my naturally poor memory has gotten much worse. I can forget a word in the middle of a sentence, and in casual conversation I find myself interrupting people far too often. It’s not that I’m trying to be rude, it’s just that I know I’ll forget the point I want to make if I wait for the other person to actually stop talking. Recently I was having a conversation with another middle aged friend, and we were desperately trying to think of the word for “kennel,” as in a canine breeding facility. There we were, two college-educated, somewhat intelligent women, and the best we could come up with was “dog farm.”
So, while I have no doubt that Still Alice is a great movie, I’m still not so sure that I want to see it. Frankly, it scares me. And I’ve never liked scary movies.