Friday, April 30, 2021

Failing (An Insignificant) Stress Test

Earlier this week I was sitting with Shira while she completed a fitness-related test at the gym. From my perspective, there were two unique features of the test: one, Shira was obviously not a happy camper while doing it and two, she couldn't talk.

The test was just a few minutes long, so I immediately came up with the idea of distracting her with YouTube clips. The only problem: in the moment I'd forgotten every single TV show and movie we'd ever watched. For the life of me, I couldn't think of a single piece of media we'd enjoyed in the last 22 years of being married.

Grasping for anything, I finally searched for the one show that did come to mind: This Is Us. What came up were clips from a recent episode where two of the main characters have an incredibly intense and awkward scene. It was awful. If anything, it slowed time down further.

My mind raced as I tried to think of literally any search that would bring up a funny and familiar clip. Shira then held up her hands to get my attention. I counted the fingers she held up: eight. Eight she flashed again. And again. What did eight mean?

Finally I had a useful thought: I had a pen and notepad in my pocket! Shira couldn't talk, but she could write. I pulled them out and handed them to her. She wrote: 9 9.

Huh? Oh, 99, as in Brooklyn 99! That's a goofy show we watch and enjoy. A quick search brought up a stream of cold opens which we used to pass the time.

When the test was over, I confessed to Shira that I was amazed at how much my brained had turned to mush. She agreed. Her proof: she wasn't holding up eight fingers, she was holiding up nine. She was flashing me nine-nine, the only TV show she could think to describe with hand signals. You're telling me, in the moment, I'd lost the ability to count? Yikes.

As I type this, I'm confident I could rattle off a dozen terms that would bring up distracting content on YouTube. Heck, if I had just added "funny" to my This is Us search I'd have found an appropriate video.

Stress makes you dumb. I know this. I've read about this. But to experience it first hand, man, is it humbling. I feel like I was the one tested this last week, and it did not go well.

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