The Mental Acuity Test

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

the words.

“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.


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