President Trump bragged recently about taking a mental acuity test that
revealed he had a brain. It did not reveal how well that brain was dealing
with reality, however.
I, not so long ago, took what I believe was the same test at my doctor’s
office. It was a surprise test, one I was totally unprepared for. I am not
going to reveal the answers, because I don’t want to be accused of giving
away the answers. Sort of like what happens to you if you get the answers
to the SATs before taking them. You get to go to Harvard.
The pop quiz started with the nurse’s assistant warning me that the test
was coming up. I figured I must have said the wrong thing when I checked
in or put the wrong date on the co-pay check. My palms got sweaty because
in college I hated pop quizzes. I hated them more than the “compare and
contrast” questions on essay exams.
But I was in the office and there was no backing out. She gave me a blank sheet of paper. Draw the hands of the clock
But I was in the office and there was no backing out.
She gave me a blank sheet of paper. Draw the hands of the clock when
the time is (blank) o’clock. She did not say blank. She gave me a
me a specific time. I learned to tell time more years ago than I can
remember, so I figured to knock this one out of the park.
You can practice this one on your own and I am not going to tell
what time to draw the hands of the clock because there are a lot
of times to pick from during the day. If you’re young enough and use
a digital clock, you could be in trouble here, I’m warning you, so you
should probably learn how to tell time the old-fashioned way.
Very good she said, as she reviewed my answer. Now, she said, count
backwards from 100 by a certain number, for example
by fives. I can’t, of course, reveal the real number. But, if you remember
the song that we all hated growing up entitled “100 Bottles of Beer on the
Wall” you are well-prepped for this question.
To ease your mind, you will not be asked to count backwards from 100
by Pi to the sixth place. I know Pi has a lot more than six places, which is
why this question isn’t asked.
Nevertheless, the hardest part of the test came next. “I’m going to say
three words,” she began, “and then leave the room. When I come back, I
want you to repeat those words.”
Without warning, she gave me the three words. I was terrified I would
forget them. She left the room. The bottom of my feet got sweaty. I kept
repeating the words in my mind. She was gone for what seemed like days.
In a couple of minutes she came back. I wanted to blurt out the words,
but I figured I had to play the cards that I was dealt.
“What were the words?” she asked. Very calmly, and cooly, I spoke
“Okay,” she said. “The doctor will be here in a minute.”
“That’s it?” I thought. I spent all that time in a mental frenzy and all I get
is an “Okay.” No genius designation? No “You’re okay, Al” ?
It was a trick, I decided. The doctor was going to ask me the three words
to check on the work his assistant did. I wasn’t going to forget those words.
I kept repeating them.
The doctor came in. “How are you doing, Al? he queried. “I’m fine,” I
parried. He then proceeded with the routine exam.
I left, disappointed that he didn’t ask me about the three words
but secure in the knowledge that I was okay.
Six months after the exam, I remembered what the three words were. I
repeated them a few times a day in case someone popped a surprise
mental acuity test on me.
A year later I had forgotten the words. But I sure as hell knew I was
dealing with reality better than Trump.